The Iowa Senate has reversed course and voted to make it easier for convenience stores to sell hard liquor.
Under current law, convenience stores must install a side door and a separate register to ring up sales of vodka, rum and other distilled spirits. Late last week the senate voted to keep that law intact, but on Tuesday afternoon senators reconsidered and voted to let hard liquor to be sold in convenience stores in the same way other products are sold.
Senator Nancy Boettger, a Republican from Harlan, argued easy access to hard liquor will encourage more underage drinking.
"They’re going to get really drunk much faster by having access to the hard liquor," Boettger said. "This is so wrong. I can’t believe we’re even considering doing it."
Boettger accused senators of kowtowing to Kum N Go, a major convenience store chain in Iowa which supports the change and she pleaded with her colleagues not to make the move.
"This is really the wrong way to go. I urge you with all my heart — I worked in prevention for 13 years. I know there’s tons of pressure for kids to drink," Boettger said. "And now there’s tons more pressure for them to drink hard liquor."
About three dozen Iowa convenience stores currently sell hard liquor through a side entrance and supporters of the change say the move will make hard liquor more available to rural residents who have to drive long distances to acquire distilled spirits since most convenience stores only sell beer. The proposal was attached to a budget bill that must be considered now by the Iowa House.