Iowa City city council votes for raising bar entry age - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City city council votes for raising bar entry age

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Several students and residents took the podium to address the city council Tuesday night, some of them quite passionately. There seems to be plenty of that going around, when it comes to raising the legal bar entry age from 19 to 21.

But despite arguments against such a law, the first of three votes to raise that age has passed. It would keep 19 and 20 year-olds out of drinking establishments from the hours of 10 PM to close. The same measure was on the ballot in the November 2007 election, but was struck down by voters.

"To penalize them for being in an establishment because there happens to be alcohol around, that's not the right way to go about it," said Tom Lenoch, local bar manager. He and other bar workers voiced their opposition to council members. But some, like Connie Champion, say bars have had their chance to curb underage drinking.

"Our concern is safety, for our students and for other people who come into the downtown area," said Charles Green, Director of Public Safety at the University of Iowa. He and other UI faculty and staff came to voice their support of the ordinance. They say Iowa City and the University of Iowa are too commonly referred to as a "drinking destination."

"We know that overconsumption, binge drinking, and dangerous drinking is linked to easy access of alcohol," explained Green.

But some believe adding another layer of restriction will only force students to get more creative in their attempts to get their hands on drinks.

"Where there's a will, there's a way," said Marni Steadham, one of many students attending the meeting. "It's a bad idea to be reactive instead of proactive."

Many said they'd like to see a stronger police presence and a higher emphasis on student drinking awareness, rather than a 21-and over law.

There are two more votes on the ordinance. The earliest it could become law would be June 1st.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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