New legislation could change under-21 rules


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A new piece of legislation proposed in the state Senate could have a big effect on Iowa City’s 21-ordinance.

The new legislation would ban cities and counties from adopting any ordinance restricting people 19 or older from entering businesses that have liquor licenses.

The bill was introduced Wednesday by Sen. Wally Horn, D-Cedar Rapids, and Sen. Rick Bertrand, R-Sioux City, who said safety is the primary concern with the legislation.

Bertrand told The Daily Iowan safety at off-campus house parties is a concern for him.

“They really don’t have a place to go,” he said. “ So they end up at an off-campus house party binge drinking.”

Iowa City’s ordinance requires businesses that sell alcohol, and don’t have exemptions, to bar entrance to anyone not 21 years old after 10 p.m.

Iowa City currently provides exemptions to businesses that have 50 percent of sales from food and to certain music venues.

City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes wrote in an email that if passed, the legislation would have an effect on the current ordinance.

“If this bill became law, it would require the repeal of the city’s under-21 ordinance as to persons 19 and 20 years of age,” she said.  “Said another way, it would become an under-19 ordinance.”

The ordinance was originally passed in 2010, and it was upheld in the 2013 election with 66 percent of voters favoring to keep the ordinance.

The bill was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday.

Bertrand said the bill directly targets college towns, because bars offer a safer place for students.

He said 19- and 20-year-olds can both vote and get drafted, so it’s time to take a look at restricting them from places that sell alcohol.

Bertrand said he didn’t think the bill has a chance of passing this session, but he is optimistic about the progress that can be made.

“It opens conversation to when we’re going to start treating our kids like adults,” he said.

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