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While lawmakers debate 19-yr-old drinking age, they close loophole on social hosting

Brad Williams

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Law to be easier to enforce than mixture of local ordinances 

Wisconsin is trying to get tougher on adults who let young people drink.

This month, lawmakers have approved punishments for parents and other adults, who allow minors to drink at parties and in homes.

The law passing this month in Madison would close a legal loophole which only seemed to cover bars and liquor stores.

Catherine Kolkmeier from the Health Science Consortium in La Crosse has been worried about a lack of penalties at the state level.

“If it’s not very high or if it doesn’t add a lot to the punishments, of course it’s not going to be taken as seriously,” she said.

Kolkmeier said a state law will be easier to enforce than a mixture of local ordinances on drinking.

“By shifting the language at the state eleve so that includes a social host element, that tends to cover it for the whole state and then it doesn’t have to be done at the ordinance level,” she said.

Kolkmeier says local social hosting practices led to a legal challenge when some ordinances became hard to enforce.

Lawmakers in Madison have also debated lowering the state drinking age to 19.