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How the 119th Indiana General Assembly didn't make the grade



Another session of the Indiana General Assembly has come to a close, just as colleges are hosting commencement ceremonies and high schools are reviewing for final exams. If we looked at the Indiana Statehouse as a big high school and the lawmakers as the students how would we, the teachers (as in the public who elected them to office), grade them on their performance?

There is plenty of evidence that says if the statehouse were a school, it would be destined for the takeover list for failing, which just might happen in the 2016 elections.


WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Powdered or crystalline alcohol. The law makes it a Class B infraction to possess, purchase, sell, offer to sell, or use powdered or crystalline alcohol, with exceptions for research purposes. It also urges the legislative council to assign to the public policy interim study committee topics related to powdered or crystalline alcohol.

WHO'S BEHIND IT: Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) authored the law, selling it as a proactive stance to prevent access to a dangerous product similar to "bath salts," an illegal synthetic substance that is responsible for numerous deaths and injuries. The inventor of powdered alcohol, Mark Philips, believes the liquor lobby had a hand in pushing the ban throughout the country.

WHY IT SUCKS: Talk about an instant smackdown on a person's freedom of choice! Philips created powdered alcohol, trademarked as "Palcohol," as a way to enjoy his favorite cocktail when it wasn't practical to haul around bottles of liquor. It is a product that will be regulated, monitored and taxed just like regular liquid alcohol, which is perfectly legal in this state. All arguments against the product were presented without evidence and based on hearsay since production hasn't even begun on Palcohol, much less distribution. "I was never invited to testify or speak to any committee about Palcohol," said Philips. He was initially prohibited from speaking publicly about Palcohol until the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Bureau approved his packaging proposal. However, once approval was granted, Philips has been able to change the minds and rulings of several state legislatures and get bans on his product reversed or vetoed. Unfortunately, due to the supermajority here in the Hoosier state, the best Terri Austin (D-Anderson) could do was get the legislature to agree to study powdered alcohol. What's also a shame is that Philips is shopping for a location to build a factory for production. By passing this bill, Indiana just said "no thanks" to the potential for manufacturing jobs.

WHERE IT STANDS: It passed with unanimous support in the Senate and on a 90-4 vote in the House. At the least Reps. Peggy Mayfield (R-Martinsville), Curt Nisly (R-Goshen), Rhonda Rhoads (R-Corydon) and Thomas Washburne (R-Evansville) thought there were enough questions still unanswered to warrant a "no" vote. Gov. Pence signed the act into law April 29. The law took effect immediately after it was signed.

GRADE: F. This bill should not have been introduced in the first place. Everything about it stands against the foundation of this country — free choice and free enterprise. There is no need to legislate against something until you have a legitimate reason to do so.


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