Expand law to prohibit adults from serving alcohol to minors

This week lobbyists rallied for a state law prohibiting adults from hosting events where alcohol is illegally consumed by underage people.

Locally, the city of Marshalltown passed a similar law – the social host ordinance – in 2011. The Marshalltown Police Department introduced the ordinance on the advice of former Police Chief Jack McAllister.

In short, the ordinance makes hosts of underage drinking parties responsible for their actions. But we think a statewide law could send a stronger message to adults who might be tempted to make an exception.

Further, a statewide law would reduce the potential risk of tragedies that all too often include youth and alcohol consumption.

An added benefit to the local ordinance is that it helps take the guesswork out for officers breaking up an underage drinking party. The person hosting the party is charged – whether that is a parent or child. Previously, officers were rarely able to pursue charges because nobody would admit fault.

Senate File 2310 is awaiting action on the Senate floor. We urge legislators to consider the benefits of this law.

Marshalltown, as one of 26 Iowa cities with an established ordinance, wouldn’t need to alter its ordinance. But communities in Marshall County and beyond would be included with this new law.

Let’s put the responsibility of underage drinking on those who host the parties and allow our law enforcement officers to do their jobs statewide.

Also keep in mind that every adult who serves alcohol to a minor, regardless of the circumstances, is sending a powerful lesson to youth: That it’s OK to break the law.