Friday, February 11, 2005

It Shall Be a Crime To Drink Cheap Beer

If the Democrats in the Oregon legislature have their way, but it already is a crime to give beer to minors, and worse, a blunder, if the legislators know about it:

SALEM - You know you're off to a rough start as a lobbyist when legislators call the cops on you for handing out free beer to minors.

Especially when you're trying to boost the beer tax to stop underage drinking.

So went Thursday's lobbying kickoff for the "Dime A Drink" coalition of activists, who held a news conference and then visited state representatives' offices to pass out beer. The 12-pack cartons were labeled with $4.99 price tags to illustrate how Oregon's beer tax makes the alcoholic beverage an affordable "gateway" that leads to alcohol abuse problems.

"Most legislators have no idea how cheap beer is," explained the group's leader, Howard Scaman, as he left a half-case of beer cans with a legislative staff member.

The problem with distributing low-end beer to lawmakers' offices was that many are staffed by interns who aren't yet 21 - which left Scaman open to charges of furnishing alcohol to minors, said Rusty Wolfe, a senior trooper with the Oregon State Police assigned to security in the Capitol.

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