Feb 012005
 
Authors: Erin Tracy

Giving personal information as a requirement to rent or buy a keg of beer could become a reality for Colorado beer patrons in the upcoming months.

The state legislature is debating a bill that will require liquor stores to have "registered kegs."

Maria Bennett, director of legislative affairs for Associated Students of CSU, said the bill, House Bill 1077, passed on its first reading Wednesday and will continue to be read by committees before being read by the state Senate. The governor will have the final say if the bill becomes law.

"It will require anyone that purchases a keg at a liquor store to provide information," Bennett said. "And after two weeks, if they do not return the shell to the liquor store that they purchased it at, their name will go on a statewide database."

If the bill passes, a person must show proper age identification when buying a keg. The liquor store employee would then write down the seal number that is attached to the keg. The number would be recorded with the purchaser's name, address, driver's license number, date of birth and phone number. The size of keg shell, beer brand, purchase date and return date would also be on the form.

Robert Younger, alcohol and tobacco enforcement officer for Fort Collins Police Services, said he thinks keg registration is a good idea, but he hopes people do not get the wrong idea about the purpose of it.

"(The downside is) just the idea that people would have that it would solve underage drinking," Younger said.

The information given in order to purchase a keg would be used to determine who bought it and who would be held responsible if people under 21 were caught drinking from it at a party.

"It is just another tool on the tool belt to help solve the problems of underage drinking," Younger said.

Katie Clausen, ASCSU president and member of the CSU Alcohol Task Force committee, said Subcommittee Three – which covered alcohol-related legislation, distribution policies and practices, media campaigns and advertising, and neighborhood relations – suggested the rest of the task force not support the legislation. The task force did not support the legislation in its final report, which was given to CSU President Larry Penley Tuesday.

"I don't think it gets to the heart of the problem," she said. "I think that it is a feel-good measure and students will just find a way around that."

ASCSU also released a formal statement that said it does not support the keg registration bill.

In the statement, ASCSU said it "feels that the myths associated with keg purchases – i.e. increased parties and noise-ordinance violations – are inaccurate and misrepresent the student body of Colorado State University. We understand that students do purchase kegs, but they are not the only consumer of this product."

Later in the statement, ASCSU said its members are concerned with the possibility of increased consumption of hard liquor or spirits that may occur because of keg registration and the potentially damaging effects that would happen because of the legislation.

"Students in essence are not stupid," Bennett said. "Rather than helping solve the problem of underage drinking, it provides other avenues students can use, particularly hard liquor."

Bryce Ballew, a senior construction management major, said he thinks the bill will cause an over-consumption of hard liquor if it passes.

"All that it (the legislation) is going to do is we are going to start drinking hard liquor," Ballew said. "I think it will solve some situations, but not others."

Derek Koll, a senior construction management major, said he is against the bill because he feels it is an invasion of privacy and it could potentially have detrimental effects.

"I think that it is another useless measure that they are trying to throw at this drinking problem to try and curb underage drinking," Koll said.

Although many people in Fort Collins are against House Bill 1077, Loveland liquor stores have embraced keg registration.

Allen Rodgers, vice president of Liquor Max, 1497 E. Eisenhower Blvd. in Loveland, said registering kegs has not been a problem for his store.

"I'm fine with doing it, because we have done it since we opened," Rodgers said. "I have heard that it is voluntary (in Loveland), but we do it all the time."

Rodgers said it takes about five to 10 minutes to register a keg. His liquor store has set a 10-day limit to have the keg shell and tap. If the keg is not returned after the 10 days, he calls the person who bought the keg to remind them to return it.

Jeff Matson, beer buyer manager for Wilbur's Wine and Spirits, 200 W. Foothills Parkway in Fort Collins, said the possibility of beer registration has not been discussed, but he does not foresee fiscal changes.

"A lot of people don't really want to give their personal information so there would be a decrease of (keg) sales," Matson said. "I would lose keg sales, but gain sales in other beer items."

Younger said the state legislature will probably decide within the next two months whether keg registration will be enforced in Colorado and whether the enforcement will be for the whole state or decided upon by municipalities.

"Probably the way they are aiming is the whole entire state," Younger said. "It would go into effect July 1."

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