INDIANAPOLIS — Legislation potentially authorizing alcohol sales at the Indiana Dunes State Park pavilion was unanimously approved Thursday by the House Public Policy Committee.
House Bill 1247 allows the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to obtain a new "state park" alcohol permit for any or all of its parks, without having to follow most of the procedures typically required to get state permission to sell beer, wine or liquor — including local review.
"This is a statewide bill to allow DNR to do what they've been doing great for 100 years, and the support was overwhelming," said state Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, the committee chairman and co-sponsor of the measure.
Several Region residents testified Wednesday against the proposal. They said it is undemocratic for the General Assembly to effectively override the local alcohol review process, which last year denied an alcohol sales permit to the pavilion operator.
Dermody pointed out that state lawmakers have, since 2012, clearly supported alcohol sales at the pavilion.
He said bypassing the local review process is no different from what was done to award alcohol permits at the state-affiliated Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and the Indiana State Fair.
"The DNR is well-suited to handle the permits for these statewide parks," Dermody said.
The full House likely will vote next week on whether to advance the legislation to the Senate. It must be approved by both chambers and signed by Gov. Mike Pence to become law.