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Social Host Bill Moves Forward In Pierre

February 7, 2014, 6:15 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Social Host Bill Moves Forward In Pierre
PIERRE, SD -

Nearly one year after getting shot down, a modified "social host" bill passed a legislative committee Friday.
    
The bill would step up the punishment for adults who knowingly provide a place for underage drinking. It's inspired by Michael Glynn, who died in an alcohol-related crash in 2006.

Last year's social host bill also went after adults who should have known about underage drinking on their property. Taking that portion out of the bill this year seemed to make the difference.

Three senators who voted against the bill last year, supported its revised version Friday. Multiple associations also switched sides. Roger Tellinghuisen spoke representing South Dakota Trial Lawyers Association.

"We do believe it's appropriate. We do believe that it's important that adults be responsible for what they allow underage people to do on their property," Tellinghuisen said.

If the bill becomes law, violators would face a misdemeanor charge. Joyce Glynn, who lost her son to an alcohol-related crash, says the law would deter adults who might host underage drinkers.

"This social host bill will not benefit me or my children anymore. It won't bring my son back," Glynn said. "But this bill could benefit you, your children, my grandchildren, your grandchildren."

Some senators worry the bill will bring unintended consequences.

It protects people who don't know about drinking on their property and those who find out about the underage drinking and try to stop it. Sen. Tim Rave, (R) Baltic, questions what would happen if parents know about teens hanging out at their home.

"But the part you don't know is the alcohol part of it. In your opinion, you do not believe they can tie that together and charge them with this bill," Rave asked Tellinghuisen.

Tellinghuisen once served as South Dakota Attorney General as well. He thinks adults would be protected in that situation.

Still, Sen. Ryan Maher, (R) Isabel, worries the bill will lead to other laws holding businesses or others who serve an intoxicated person alcohol responsible for that person's actions.

"This is just one of those instances, it's a slow process of bringing forth that kind of legislation," Maher said.

But others on the committee disagree, including Sen. Larry Lucas, (D) Mission, and Sen. Craig Tieszen, (R) Rapid City. They supported the bill last year and called this year’s version stronger.

Two senators in the Senate State Affairs Committee voted against the bill. It now moves to the Senate floor.

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