The Iowa Senate has approved the idea of serving champagne to competitors who finish the Hy-Vee Triathlon in June. The finish line is on the state capitol grounds and last year the legislature voted to grant Hy-Vee an exemption from the no-alcohol rule on the capitol grounds so they could hand finishers a glass of champagne and the Senate voted to grant the exemption again this year.
A handful of senators voted against the move, however, saying it sets a bad example. Senator Keith Kreiman, a Democrat from Bloomfield, says it sends a "terrible" message to Iowa kids. "As parents we tell our kids: ‘You don’t need alcohol to have fun. You don’t need alcohol at a party,’ and then we turn around and we say, ‘Well, I guess we need alcohol at this party so badly that we’re going to spend taxpayer money, taxpayer time to debate the issue,’" Kreiman said.
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs drew laughter with this explanation. "I think this is about replacing lost bodily fluids," Gronstal joked.
Senator David Hartsuch, a Republican from Bettendorf, offered a rebuttal about champagne. "Truth of the matter is it’s a potent diuretic and would lead to dehydration and so therefore it should not be consumed by triathletes," Hartsuch said.
The Senate also voted to allow wine to be served at a statehouse banquet this fall to honor recipients of the World Food Prize. Senator Dave Mulder, a Republican from Sioux Center, opposes serving alcohol in the capital, regardless of the event. "As you know I’m an old coach and I battled cigarette smoking with my athletes and I also battled the use of alcohol and removed a number of young people from teams because they used it," Mulder said. "I’ve always felt a personal example was a vital issue as a teacher and a coach, so I just don’t think (the state capitol) is the place to do that."
The Hy-Vee Triathlon will be held June 22nd in Iowa’s capitol city. The 2007 World Food Prize dinner in the statehouse attracted over 800 people from more than 65 countries, and organizers expect a similar crowd this fall.