Underage drinking will have the attention of Joyce Glynn for the rest of her life because she knows the consequences of that action. Her son, Michael, attended a party in 2006 and was killed while driving home drunk. Since that time, she has made it her mission to educate other kids as well as state legislators.
"I think a lot of people have talked to their legislators and made them aware of their feelings about it, and it's given the legislators a whole year to learn more about it," Glynn said.
Last year, a bill introduced in Pierre wanted to increase penalties for adults who host underage drinking parties, a bill Glynn expressed her support for. It was struck down, but this year is a different story thanks to what Glynn says is a change in thinking.
"I guess we call it a social norm. They just assumed that kids drink and that's just the way it's going to be; they're always going to drink," Glynn said.
Glynn knows there are other underage drinking issues that need attention, including cases like that of Tyrone Gastineau, an adult who is accused of buying alcohol for minors. She has even approached her state senator about why people are not put in jail for life if their actions lead to the minor's death.
"And I was serious, I was absolutely serious, and fortunately, Sen. Lucas said, 'Joyce, that's just not even reasonable,'" Glynn said.
That answer has taught her that change cannot happen overnight and steps need to be taken in order to reach an ultimate goal. Glynn sees the social host bill as a step that can also help bring stiffer penalties to adults buying alcohol for minors.
"I mean, we're talking about kids who are dying because an adult committed a crime and aided in contributing to them dying, and them getting off with a misdemeanor charge is just not right," Glynn said.
Glynn also spoke in favor of this year's social host bill in Pierre on February 7th when it passed out of the Senate State Affairs Committee. The bill has since passed the full Senate and is on its way to the House Judiciary Committee.