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Social Host Bill Moves Forward

March 3, 2014, 6:00 PM by Don Jorgensen

Social Host Bill Moves Forward

Underage drinking parties took center stage Monday in the South Dakota Legislature.  Senate Bill 163, also known as the "social host bill" would make it a misdemeanor for an adult to knowingly allow people under the age of 21 to drink alcohol in their home.  

The bill has already passed the full Senate and Monday was debated in the House Judiciary Committee where lawmakers heard emotional testimony.

Underage drinking has been a hot topic in Pierre this legislative session. 

The House Judiciary Committee heard from Joyce Glynn, a mother whose son, Michael, was killed after driving home drunk from a party in 2006.

"A very good friend, who also lost a young child, told me not long after Michael died, 'Joyce, we belong to a really lousy club; a club whose membership is based on having buried a child.' We don't need or want anymore members," Glynn said.

While Glynn has made it her mission to try and curb underage drinking, state lawmakers debated the merits of the bill.   Senator Larry Lucas of Mission is one of the main sponsors.

"If you don't know about it and come home and find the party and take action to stop it, then you're good parents; a good citizen whatever the case may be.  But if you allow it to go on and you're not there, it would be a misdemeanor against you," Lucas said.

"My question to you is, is it safer for the kids to be out in a pasture or a section line or driving around or in a place where parents will stop you at the driveway, take your keys and there's nothing you could do about it," Representative Justin Cronin of Gettysburg said.

"If the parents want their minor children to have alcohol on graduation, then they ought to be right there with them under their immediate supervision.  That could solve the problem right there, but to turn them free under somebody else's so called supervision where that person is not a good citizen or good parents, you run the risk of being a rogue parent or rogue citizen" Lucas said.

"Again, I think this is a good law.  It sends a message you expect adults to follow the laws that you have made, specifically the basic law that says, 'This is illegal for youth under 21 to consume alcohol,'" Glynn said.

The social host bill passed on a 12-1 vote. It now goes on to the full House.

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