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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Politics: The Bars at Night are Big and Bright 

While one Texas congressman wants to make it easier for legal drinkers to get sloshed, a colleague in the Legislature intends to make that more difficult (bypass registration), particularly for underaged drinkers.

A House bill filed this week would require Texans who buy kegs of beer to fill out a state registration swearing they are 21 years old and promising not to serve the beer to minors.

Beer retailers criticized the bill Wednesday, saying they would bear the burden of the proposed registration program and its bookkeeping.

The keg registration is one of three bills meant to reduce underage drinking filed by Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands. Eissler got behind the legislation at the urging of one of his constituents, Susan Wagener, whose son died of acute alcohol poisoning in 1999 on the campus of Texas A&M University.

A second Eissler bill would punish vendors who sell alcohol to people during the early morning hours of their 21st birthdays. The law is aimed at curbing birthday binge drinking that has led to deaths like those of Michael Wagener.

Another bill would limit the amount of alcohol that may be served in any one drink by licensed retailers to a half-ounce of pure alcohol or the equivalent. A police investigation into Wagener's death confirmed that he had been served eight or nine 4-ounce shots of liquor in 30 to 45 minutes, roughly the amount of a one-liter bottle of liquor
I understand the first bill, though I'm not going to start a letter-writing campaign to my Representative in support of it. But the other two? We Texans have a term for stupid ideas like those -- it's called "horseshit."

Personal responsibility is a great thing. It's an American thing. It's what separates us from a lot of other countries, where citizens cede their personal sovereignty over to a government that they expect to take care of them.

The death that apparently served as the catalyst for this proposed legislation is unfortunate. I feel sorry for his family. But it's not a reason for the government to overstep its obligations to protect the rest of us. Isolated incidents are simply not cause for excessive regulation.


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