The Natural Resources Commission has rejected a proposal to ban alcohol on Iowa Great Lakes Beaches over the upcoming July 4th holiday. Law enforcement officials pitched the plan saying there have been problems with public intoxication, nudity and fighting.
Commissioner Janelle Rettig says the state needs to do a better job enforcing the laws it already has in place. “We have laws against littering, we have laws against underage drinking, we have laws against public nudity, we have laws against assault and battery and yet we write virtually no tickets there on the Fourth of July,” Rettig said. “So if we were very much concerned about it, you’d think we’d be enforcing the laws we already have in place.”
Iowa Department of Natural Resources director Rich Leopold argues partying on the holiday has gotten out of hand – threatening public safety and leaving the beaches full of litter. Rettig says people who are breaking the law should be held accountable.
“If we’re incapable of enforcing the laws we have, then I don’t see how it’s beneficial to add even more laws,” Rettig said. “And as a law abiding citizen would like to have an alcoholic beverage on the beach in the summertime, I don’t see why making that illegal helps our state.”
Rettig also objected to the D.N.R.’s decision to request the ban so close to the Fourth of July, leaving little time for public comment. The commission did vote to allow the D.N.R. to begin rule making on an alcohol ban for next year – which would give citizens more time to weigh in on the issue.