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Publish Date: 4/13/2005

Senate kills keg-tag measure


DENVER — The proposed law that would have allowed law-enforcement agencies to track down adult buyers of beer kegs for underage drinkers died Tuesday in the state Senate.

Senators voted 19-16 to reject House Bill 1077, which would have established a tagging system to record the keg purchaser’s identification and allow authorities to trace it back to the buyer.

“This bill is first and foremost about protecting our kids,” Larimer County Republican Sen. Steve Johnson said, noting that a keg-identification system has been working in Loveland for the past decade.

“This bill is about enforcing laws that we currently have on the books” against providing alcoholic beverage to minors, Johnson said.

He and supporters of the bill argued that existing local keg-tagging efforts do not help officers find buyers of kegs purchased outside the community.

Senate foes of HB1077, however, argued Tuesday that keg tagging would cause underage drinkers to buy bottles or cans of beer or move to harder and sometimes more dangerous forms of alcohol.

Partygoers could “just fill your trunk up with canned beer, instead of kegs,” said Lakewood Republican Sen. Norma Anderson. “Instead of keg parties, we’ll have can parties.”

Or, Anderson said, youths might get adults to buy hard liquor.

“That kills kids,” she said of hard-liquor binge-drinking. “Beer doesn’t.”

Johnson, though, said the bill could help reduce drunken-driving fatalities and other tragedies that can accompany underage drinking, even if the beverage involved was only beer.

He also said Loveland police have not found that youths in that city noticeably shifted to other forms of alcohol for their illegal drinking parties after the police department started its keg-registration program.

Loveland keg retailers supported the program when it began and still do, Johnson said.

Tuesday’s death of HB1077 came despite an amendment intended to address concerns raised by beer retailers.

All 16 of Johnson’s fellow Senate Republicans were joined by three Democrats in voting against the bill.

Among those voting for HB1077 were Sen. Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, and Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Jefferson County. Voting against the bill were Sens. Ron Tupa, D-Boulder, and Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield.

“We let our police officers down when this bill was killed,”

Breckenridge Democratic Rep. Gary Lindstrom, a former Summit County sheriff who introduced HB1077 and shepherded it through the House, said in a statement.

John Fryar can be reached by e-mail at
jfryar@times-call.com.

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