Minn. Drinking Age Bill Gets Duluth Business Support, Skepticism

Posted at: 03/01/2013 5:52 PM
Updated at: 03/02/2013 12:26 AM
By: Alan Hoglund

nullA bill to lower Minnesota's drinking age is making a comeback in St. Paul. But this year, there's a twist. It has support from Duluth and Iron Range DFL'ers.

Representatives Erik Simonson, Tom Anzelc and Jason Metsa are all co-authors on legislation that would allow people under the age of 21 to drink alcohol at a bar or restaurant as long as they're accompanied by a parent, guardian or spouse of legal age.

The proposal is winning support from some Duluth businesses, but skepticism as well.

"I would want to see an age limit on that. That is for sure," said Brian Dougherty, the president of Grandma's Restaurants.

Eddie Gleeson, a co-owner of Carmody Irish Pub, said "I do want to put an age on this...I think 19. I think 19 would be the age."

If you hadn't guessed it yet, the main concern of these two businessmen is that no minimum age is incorporated into the new drinking age legislation.

Rep. Simonson explained why he's backing the legislation Friday morning. "Maybe there is an opportunity here where if this were in place we could teach a little more about responsible alcohol consumption," he said.

Rep. Simonson's explanation mirrors the reason Dougherty and Gleeson support at least part of the proposal.

"Teach people how to drink responsibly, and who better to do that than the parent" asked Gleeson.

The businessmen do have conditions.

Both told Eyewitness News that they would want the authority to decide who and who doesn't get served.

Rep. Simonson said it is a long shot the proposal will get any traction in St. Paul. Instead, he said "I think it's an interesting idea and I want to have the conversation with Duluthians."

It's a conversation in which both Dougherty and Gleeson said they would like to be involved.

Another bill introduced in the House of Representatives proposes allowing any 18-year-old to drink at a bar or restaurant without supervision. Rep. Simonson has not signed on as a co-author of that piece of legislation.