Proposed bill could strike down Iowa City's 21 ordinance - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Proposed bill could strike down Iowa City's 21 ordinance

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

New proposed legislation could allow adults under 21-years-old into bars across Iowa, potentially striking Iowa City's 21-ordinance down.

This week, State Senator Wally Horn introduced a bipartisan bill that could stop cities and counties all over the state from adopting ordinances that ban 19- and 20-year-olds from entering bars or restaurants with a liquor license.

"Nineteen and twenty-year olds can be sent to prison, they can be sent to war and killed, they can do all of these things, they can be sued. Why can't they at least go in a bar," said Horn.

Horn says his proposed bill is not saying underage people should drink, he just thinks they have the right to be inside the bar.

Alex Heller is a Manager at Quinton's Bar, in Iowa City.

He says the amount of people downtown has been drastically down because of Iowa City's 21 ordinance, passed about 5 years ago.

"Parties and drinking where it's less regulated," said Heller. "Less safe in some neighborhoods almost too. Where as downtown, you have police around and it's just more regulated at least in the bars itself."

Heller also says revenue is down for Quinton's.

He says it's not about the drinking aspect, they also serve food.

One of the reasons city leaders established the ordinance and voters approved, was to reduce sexual assaults.

Iowa City leaders say the ordinance has been a success - reducing underage drinking and creating a safe downtown environment.

"I don't think it's true," said Horn. "I think that some of these assaults take place in privacy, and they aren't reported."

Horn says the bill focuses on safety. 

He claims by allowing 19- and 20-year-olds in bars, it would keep them away from dangerous house parties.

"They're adults and everything you can think of when they're nineteen and twenty to say they can't go into a bar? When they were 3-years-old they could go into a bar and eat," said Horn.

It could be a while if and when this proposed piece of legislation moves forward.

Senator Horn says the bill was given to the Senate Commerce Committee for closer consideration and will likely be handed over to a subcommittee for review.

If things go in his favor, Horn says a change could happen as early as July.

It's still unclear what Iowa City leaders will do if this bill gains steam.

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