Minnesota lawmaker wants to lower minimum drinking age - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Minnesota lawmaker wants to lower minimum drinking age

MN lawmaker wants to lower minimum drinking age (Source: AP) MN lawmaker wants to lower minimum drinking age (Source: AP)
CNN - A Minnesota lawmaker is proposing a bill that would allow 18-year-olds to drink in bars and restaurants.

Rep. Phyllis Kahn thinks it will help them drink more responsibly.

The owner of Sports Hub in La Crescent agrees.

"If they're able to have a beer or whatever instead of a pop, you might get them to hang around here," says owner Joel Minegar.

A fair share of Sports Hub's customers are underage since the business also serves food and soft drinks.

Minegar says putting 18-year-olds in a controlled environment would be an all-around benefit.

"That would alleviate some of the concerns that kids are, at that age, 18 to 20, are possibly drinking somewhere else, whether it be in, you know, the rural areas or house parties and stuff, so I'd be for it if they switched to that," says Minegar.

He also says Sports Hub bartenders are experienced and know their clientele. Minegar does not believe over-serving would be an issue.

"That's one of the main things that we watch for is to make sure that nobody has had, you know, too much," says Minegar.

La Crescent Police Chief Douglas Stavenau says they have a lot of 18-year-olds in the community who are still in high school, which could create many issues.

"I don't know how this bill would fit, if you could consume alcohol in an establishment legally, how this would fit within athletic programs, within the school district," says Chief Stavenau.

Stavenau says the change would drive commerce and revenue. But he does not understand how it would provide safety and awareness.

"I'm not sure how purchasing a beverage at the local establishment would prevent the binge drinking on the local campus... or a campus," says Stavenau.

If the bill were to pass in Minnesota, it would go into effect in August.

However, that could put Minnesota in violation of the "National Minimum Drinking Age Act" that Congress passed in 1984.

That violation would reduce the amount of federal highway funding Minnesota would receive.

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