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Bill allowing underage military members to drink fails

A bill that would have allowed underage active military members to drink alcohol was voted down Friday in the North Dakota House. The bill as introduced would have allowed members of the military ages 18 to 20 to consume alcohol on a military bas...

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A bill that would have allowed underage active military members to drink alcohol was voted down Friday in the North Dakota House.

The bill as introduced would have allowed members of the military ages 18 to 20 to consume alcohol on a military base if the commanding officer allowed it. The bill, introduced by Rep. Andrew Maragos, R-Minot, was amended to allow active military members to drink on "any premises licensed to sell alcoholic beverages."

The Judiciary Committee issued a do-not-pass recommendation on the bill, and the House voted 67-23 against it Friday.

The bill was introduced on behalf of a citizen who was upset that he couldn't thank underage military members for their service with a beer, according to Rep. Diane Larson, R-Bismarck, the chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee.

"It upset him that these young men and women, who were mature enough to go and serve their country, but not considered mature enough to drink alcohol," Larson said of the citizen. "In fact, he stated that they were the most responsible group of people that age."

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Larson said, however, that the Judiciary Committee heard testimony about substance abuse among veterans and concerns that allowing younger service members drink "would be a dangerous trend." She also said binge drinking rates among young adults in North Dakota are the second-highest in the country.

"Although we have the greatest respect for our military, we do not feel that supplying them with alcohol is the best way to demonstrate that," Larson said.

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