February 2nd, 2006

  • tyfx

fear not, for there shall be kegs...


Panel chairman says he'll kill ban on private keg purchases

Capital Bureau

MONTGOMERY -- The chairman of a key subcommittee of the Alabama House of Representatives on Wednesday said a proposal that would essentially ban private keg parties is dead for the session.

"That thing will not see the light of day again this session," said Rep. Randy Hinshaw, D-Meridianville. "I'll kill it myself."

Hinshaw said his subcommittee, which handles alcohol-related proposals for the House Tourism and Travel Committee, will instead work on a bill from Rep. Jamie Ison, R-Mobile, that would create a statewide keg registration system. The full Tourism and Travel Committee voted Wednesday to send the two bills -- each pitched as a way to curb underage drinking -- to Hinshaw's subcommittee for further study. The keg ban bill, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, and Rep. Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, has already passed the Senate.

"Listen, there isn't a member on this committee who doesn't want to cut underage drinking," said Chairman Johnny Mack Morrow, D-Red Bay. "It's just a matter of figuring out how best to do it."

Ison's bill is designed to create a paper trail with each keg purchase to allow law enforcement officials to trace the purchaser of kegs found at underage drinking parties. As written, the bill would require a keg buyer to fill out a purchase form containing an identification number affixed to the keg. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board would work with retailers to coordinate the record-keeping. Ison pointed out that buyers typically already have to fill out paperwork when paying retailers deposits on kegs.

Ison has already won passage of a local bill creating such a system in Mobile County, but she has been unsuccessful in her efforts to create a statewide system.

Just as he did last year, Rep. Eric Major, D-Birmingham, told Ison on Wednesday that he opposes her bill's $1 fee on purchasers. Fifty cents would go to the ABC Board and 50 cents to the retailer.

Ison describes the amount as a "processing fee." Major called it a tax.

"That's a small cost to address a big problem," Ison told Major.

She continued: "We're not trying to target the retailers in any way. We're not trying to target the distributors in any way. The only individuals we're trying to target are those who are providing alcohol to minors."

Ison said after the meeting that she would be willing to compromise on the fee.

Singleton's bill would have restricted keg beer consumption to the property of the bars, restaurants or other locales licensed to sell it. It was first pushed by beer distributors in Alabama who said they are interested in limiting underage access to alcohol.

Many lawmakers have commented in recent weeks about the volume of calls they have received from angry constituents blasting the Senate's version as an undue restriction of individual rights.

The issue has received attention in southwest Alabama in recent years as local law enforcement officials have made several mass arrests at outside parties where individuals under 21 had access to keg beer. One such party in Semmes led to the death of a 16-year-old boy.