Minnesota Lawmaker Optimistic New Legislation Could Lower Drinking Age In Her State To 18

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A Minnesota state representative is back with two bills that would allow 18-year-olds to drink in bars and restaurants in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Phyllis Kahn, who represents parts of Minneapolis — including the University of Minnesota — has long been a proponent for a lowered drinking age. The state representative believes that kids who learn to drink at an early age, like they do in Europe, won’t be idiots who stock up on liquor and binge drink in their rooms, which she sees as far more dangerous than just giving a kid a beer.

From the Pioneer Press:

The bill she prefers would lower the drinking age in bars and restaurants to 18. The idea is to let young people learn to drink socially as they do in Europe, she said, so they’re not scrambling for fake IDs or stocking up on liquor illegally and then binge-drinking in their rooms.

Her other bill would allow underage people to drink in bars and restaurants if accompanied by a parent or guardian or spouse who is of legal age.

Kahn expects serious opposition to her bills, including negative feedback from the governor’s office. She does believe there is reason for optimism. Specifically, the federal government can no longer threaten states by withholding federal funds if those states are considering a lowered drinking age:

Part of the objection to Kahn’s efforts in the past has been based on the 1984 federal law that threatened states with the loss of 10 percent of their federal highway funding if they didn’t move the drinking age to 21.

But Kahn said that in its 2012 ruling on the Medicaid expansion requirement in the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Supreme Court established that the federal government can’t threaten to withhold funding to compel states to act in a certain way.

To her, that means states can change the drinking age without forfeiting federal dollars.

Realistically, a more reasonable scenario would be having the drinking age lowered to 19 as a way to combat high school kids from getting hammered at neighborhood bars.

Teenagers still wouldn’t be allowed to buy alcohol from liquor stores, but this is a step in the right direction. It could also lead to a snowball effect with other states proposing similar legislation.

The absurdity of being old enough to sign away your life to the military but not being able to drink a beer might end soon. That’s a good thing.

[via Pioneer Press]

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