October 24, 2014

Bill cracks down on adults who allow underage keggers on their property

The Iowa Senate has voted to establish new penalties for adults who knowingly allow “keggers” or other drinking parties on their property.

“As an educator, as a coach and as a parent, I believe this bill is very important to protect our teens from drinking and from what it’s indirectly tied to: drinking and driving,” said Senator Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa.

Under current Iowa law it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol, unless they are under the supervision of their parent or legal guardian. Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, described the bill as a “modest effort” to try to reduce underage drinking.

“This legislation addresses this problem by setting a standard that says that owners of property should not knowingly allow people who they know to be underage to drink alcohol on their property,” Hogg said. “It creates an important expectation for parents and for communities to not do that.”

If the bill becomes law, property owners and renters could be charged with a misdemeanor if they’re caught allowing a bunch of underage kids to drink on their land, in their garage or barn or in even their house.

“Big drinking parties,” Hogg said. “That’s the problem we’re trying to attack.”

Senator Mark Chelgren, a Republican from Ottumwa, voted for the bill, but argued it should not apply to 19 and 20 year olds.

“We should not be condoning or making excuses for people who under 18 to drink,” Chelgren said. “The concern that I do have is that gray area where we have officially told someone that you are an adult. You have all the rights and responsibilities of being an adult. You have the ability to go and serve and die for you country, but then we tell them that we are going to group them until they turn 21 with regards to drinking into a different category and that concerns me.”

The bill passed the Senate on a 48-0 vote and now goes to the Iowa House for consideration.  Twenty-two counties and 26 cities in Iowa already have ordinances that are similar to this proposed state law.