Bill would lower drinking age in Wisconsin to 19 - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Bill would lower drinking age in Wisconsin to 19

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(WKOW) -

Wisconsin's drinking culture is back in the spotlight at the State Capitol. A group of state lawmakers wants to break away from a more than 30-year-old federal law and allow younger adults to drink.

The bill, proposed by three Republican representatives, would lower the drinking age in Wisconsin from 21 to 19. 

Rep. Rob Swearingen, a former president of the Tavern League, says the bill would keep young people safer while drinking, if they're in bars rather than at unsupervised parties. 

He says state governments should be able to decide the drinking age.

"Let's get that ability back to the state of Wisconsin. Let's make our own decisions and let's keep these kids a little more safe," Swearingen said.

Scot Ross, who leads the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, says the bill sends the wrong message about the state's drinking culture. He's a recovering alcoholic and wants to see the Legislature adopt more responsible policies related to alcohol in Wisconsin, like treatment and education for young people in college to avoid incidents campuses are already dealing with right now.

"I think you'll have more incidents of assault, more incidents of violence, more reckless drinking," Ross said.

Right now, federal highway funding is tied to the drinking age. States could lose money if the age is lowered, but lawmakers think there could be a change under the current administration.

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