Lawmakers curb cold alcohol sales; non-compete bill moves

Senate narrowly passes pharmacist birth control bill that now goes to governor

By: and - April 12, 2023 6:00 am
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Lawmakers voted to move two bills forward on Tuesday: barring certain cold alcohol sales and some physician non-compete agreements.

The General Assembly advanced numerous proposals Tuesday: from barring certain sales of cold alcoholic beverages and limiting physician non-compete agreements to increasing access to birth control.

The House passed its committee reading deadline Tuesday and the Senate quickly approaches their deadline to move bills, marking the final days for bills to either pass or die this legislative session.

Second time’s the charm for noncompetes

After deadlocking on a bill barring certain restrictions on non-compete agreement for physicians last week, the House labor committee gave their approval for an amended version on Tuesday.

The underlying bill, Senate Bill 7, sought to prevent health systems from imposing contracts with their employees that would prevent them from continuing to work as a health care provider in the state – something some physicians said happens now when employers place geographic or temporal limits on departing doctors.

However, an amendment to exempt primary care doctors last week gave committee members pause, stalling the bill in committee on a 6-6 vote.

The latest amendment simply outlines situations under which a noncompete agreement would be unenforceable, including if:

  • An employer terminates a physician’s employment without cause
  • The physician terminates the physician’s employment for cause
  • The physician’s employment contract has expired and the physician and employer have fulfilled the obligations of the contract

Additionally, it establishes a process for the parties to pursue mediation instead of arbitration.

That change was enough to sway some holdouts, with the bill moving out of committee on a 7-4 vote – splitting members of both parties. One Democrat voted yes and one Republican voted no.

With Tuesday being the last day for Senate bills to pass House committees, delaying any further would have potentially killed the bill for this year. 

Banning certain cold alcohol sales

Indiana is also one step closer to banning sales of cold liquor and mixed beverages at grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores. 

Senate Bill 20, which advanced 79-19 from the House on Tuesday, originally intended to allow cities and towns to establish outdoor refreshment areas where alcoholic drinks can be served. 

Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne (Monroe Bush for Indiana Capital Chronicle)

But an amendment adopted in committee last week inserted an additional provision to restrict Hoosiers from buying refrigerated mixed drinks, ciders and seltzers, except at package liquor stores. 

Those sales are already happening currently.

Lawmakers said the latest draft of the bill aligns sales of those drinks with Indiana’s existing cold beer statute and will help decrease drunk driving. 

Cold beer is already prohibited from being sold at such stores. Cold wine purchases, however, would continue to be allowed.

Bill sponsor Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, noted that the bill also includes language allowing hemp growers to sell directly to those aged 21 and older — without needing a licensed intermediary.

“Overall, this seems to bring common sense and streamlines laws on hemp products,” Lehman said. 

Bills heading to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk after Tuesday include:

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Whitney Downard
Whitney Downard

A native of upstate New York, Whitney previously covered statehouse politics for CNHI’s nine Indiana papers, focusing on long-term healthcare facilities and local government. Prior to her foray into Indiana politics, she worked as a general assignment reporter for The Meridian Star in Meridian, Mississippi. Whitney is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University (#GoBonnies!), a community theater enthusiast and cat mom.

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Casey Smith
Casey Smith

A lifelong Hoosier, Casey Smith previously reported on the Indiana Legislature for The Associated Press. Internationally, she has reported on water quality across South America. She holds a master’s degree in investigative reporting and narrative science writing from the University of California/Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She previously earned degrees in journalism, anthropology and Spanish from Ball State University, where she now serves as an instructor of journalism.

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