MERRILLVILLE  – It took several lifetimes for Indiana to approve the sale of carryout liquor on Sunday. That was just earlier this year, so don’t expect additional major changes to the state’s liquor laws anytime soon.

The General Assembly’s Alcohol Code Revision Commission will present its recommendations for changes on Sept. 28. But the early word is that nothing drastic will be recommended.

There is one hope, and that bright light is coming from Randall Woodruff, one of the four Alcohol and Tobacco commissioners appointed by the governor.

At issue is the alcohol permit system that is based on the population of each municipality. The quota system hurt Munster earlier this year when it attempted to receive three new permits for liquor consumption at Centennial Village restaurants.

Nope. Munster already had reached its quota for the issuance of alcohol sale permits.

Woodruff made all the sense in the world at the most recent state task force meeting when he suggested the state throw out the quota system. “It seems to me the evil is the quota system,” Woodruff said. “I don’t think it is necessary and I don’t think it works.”

Woodruff said ending the quota system would impact the 745 permits currently held in escrow by those planning to start a business or those hoarding permits so they don’t face competition. He added that ending the quota system would allow the free market to dictate the number of alcohol permits.

But Woodruff’s plan faces stiff competition from people like Rep. Ben Smaltz, chairman of the House Public Policy Committee. Without providing any facts, Smaltz said it is undisputed that the outlet density of alcohol leads to more drunken driving, increased sexual assault and other societal ills. How do you fight that?

The best that Munster and other towns who have used up their quotas can hope for is small adjustments to the quota system. That’s unfortunate.

What Indiana really needs to do is allow retailers other than package liquor stores to sell cold beer.

That’s likely not going to happen given the conservative nature of Indiana. Heck, it took 85 years for the state to decide it would be OK to allow the purchase of carryout liquor on Sunday. 

Rich James has been writing about politics and government for almost 40 years. He is retired from the Post-Tribune, a newspaper born in Gary.