DES MOINES — Cities and counties could not adopt restrictions keeping patrons aged 19 years or older from entering bars, taverns, entertainment venues or other establishments where alcoholic beverages are served under a bipartisan bill proposed by two state senators Wednesday.
Sens. Wally Horn, D-Cedar Rapids, and Rick Bertrand, R-Sioux City, said Senate File 208 is intended to address a situation primarily in college towns where young people are denied access to entertainment venues and end up binge drinking at private house parties where they may be assaulted or face other dangerous situations.
“Right now there are a lot of problems that are happening out there with women and violence at colleges,” said Bertrand. “The problem is that a lot of these 19- and 20-year-olds, they can’t get into the big dance clubs, they can’t get into the places where kids are, so where do they end up at? They end up binge drinking somewhere at a party.”
Horn said the legislation would overrule cities by saying they couldn’t pass ordinances barring 19- and 20-year-old adults from bars. In return, he said, young people would have to “self-patrol themselves” by not violating the state law prohibiting residents under the age of 21 from buying or consuming alcohol.
Bertrand said individual businesses still could post 21-only restrictions, but it also would provide a viable alternative for establishments that would accommodate young people who normally would have to leave the premises of a business licensed to sell alcoholic beverages once food service ended.
The bill was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee for further consideration.