Folly Moon challenges Department of Homeland Security entertainment law

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, IN -  A local band leader and downtown bar operator is challenging the Indiana Department of Homeland Security's authority to regulate and permit live entertainment.

Last April, IDHS through its fire and building safety division found Mike Martin of the Folly Moon violated state law by failing to obtain an entertainment permit for live music at the downtown establishment.

State law requires places of amusement and entertainment to have permits subject to the inspection of state fire and building inspectors. And the law defines entertainment places as night clubs, dance halls or cabarets.

Martin filed an appeal to the permit, saying he operated a bar and restaurant with occasional music played by his band, The Mike Martin Band, and others.

And in the challenge before an administrative law judge, Martin believed the state was not enforcing the law uniformly, only requiring permits for live music instead of electronic or even Karaoke that is also played at the Moon.

And the law really does not apply to restaurants or bars, he adds, along with concerns that the IDHS is trying to shut down small business with outdated laws.

John Erickson, IDHS spokesman, said it was up to the state to enforce the law.

But Don Marquardt, president of the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association, said the enforcement was just the latest in a series of government action against the food and beverage industry that has been hard hit by taxes, smoking bans and competition by other business.

 The entertainment permit law is archaic and outdated, Marquardt said, used to regulate night clubs and dance halls which are not bars and restaurants. The ILBA tried to get the law rewritten a few years ago, asking former lawmaker and now Mayor Dennis Tyler to help. The Legislature never addressed the issue.

Marquardt mentioned another affront to bars and restaurants with excise police enforcing old local health code violations and issuing infractions against owners.

Martin plans to have his day before a judge in August, hoping to stop more expense to local bars and restaurants.