Students push for tougher drinking laws

Wednesday, April 9th 2008, 9:36 pm
By: News 9

By Stacey Cameron, NEWS 9

A group of high school teens hoping to crack down on that trend took to the capitol Wednesday to lobby for a law aimed at teen drinking.

Minors consume 20-percent of all alcohol sold in Oklahoma, this according to the Institute for Child Advocacy.

Although class was out for South East high school students, the kids meeting together on the steps were still getting a lesson in civics at the state capitol.

"We're going to actually have a meeting of the judiciary committee, I hope in the next hour or so," said Rep. Rex Duncan (R-Sand Springs).

But the teens, teachers and parents weren't at the Capitol to lobby state Representative Rex Duncan. They wanted know why the committee Duncan chairs isn't passing Senate Bill 1530.

Senate Bill 1530 is the statewide social host law. The measure makes providing alcohol and low point beer to minors a more serious crime in Oklahoma.

The students want Representative Duncan to pass a law making it tougher for them to party illegally.

"We need this passed in order to save lives, as many lives as we can," said high school student, Amanda Seigler.

Over 20 towns, including Edmond, Moore and Tulsa have already passed similar laws. While the Senate passed the statewide version unanimously, Duncan said the House of Representatives won't be hearing the bill the kids supported.

"Frankly look for the cities and municipalities to enforce and enact these efforts at the local level," Duncan said. "I think that's where they'll find the best success."

Senator Debbie Leftwich (D-District 44) authored the bill and she's the lawmaker that gave Duncan a failing grade. She said Duncan's House Judiciary Committee is playing politics with kids' lives.

"They need to wake up and realize there is an alcohol and substance abuse problem in Oklahoma," Senator Leftwich said. "And there's one with teenagers."

According to its supporters, Senate Bill 1350 would make the state's current social host law stronger by including low point beer as alcohol and by making a third offense under the law a felony. The charge could carry a five year prison sentence and a 5-thousand dollar fine.