Bill to stop power hour

A bill would prohibit people from drinking at midnight on their 21st birthdays.

The traditional power hour most new 21-year-olds celebrate could soon come to an end.

A new bill introduced in the House last week would prohibit 21-year-olds from drinking at midnight on their birthdays. Individuals would have to wait until 8 a.m. instead.

The chief author of the bill, Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said the purpose is to prevent deaths because of excessive drinking of alcohol by young adults.

The bill states a person is not 21 years of age until 8 a.m. the next morning and that consuming, possessing, selling and serving alcoholic beverages would be restricted.

In his hometown of Moorhead, Minn., a community with four higher education institutions, Lanning said, two incidents have happened because of “power-hour celebrations.”

One male student died, and another nearly died because of power hours, he said.

Lanning described a power hour as an hour or two after a person turns 21 and drinks a lot of alcohol. Most young adults associate power hour with indulging in as many drinks as possible, and for some, that can mean drinking 21 alcoholic beverages as soon as they become of age, he said.

“It isn’t going to prevent (power hour) from happening, but if this legislation keeps one person from losing his or her life, then it’s worth it,” Lanning said.

The House Regulated Industries Committee will review the bill in two weeks, Lanning said.

The bill has also been introduced in the Senate and is waiting for a hearing, said Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, a sponsor of the bill.

“When young people are dying from alcohol consumption, it’s a concern,” Skoe said.

If such a bill is passed, Lanning said, a law could take effect as early as this summer.

However, some students and local bar owners said they disagree with the bill because it would not accomplish much.

“It’s kind of a waste of effort,” said Jon Landers, general manager of Stub & Herbs.

“I don’t think it would make a difference to enforce it.”

Landers, who has worked at Stub & Herbs for more than seven years, said young adults are pretty responsible when it comes to drinking alcohol.

“We have a 21st birthday every night, and there are very few problems,” he said.

But microbiology junior Nick Milanowski said he knows firsthand of the negative effects of the power hour.

“A lot of people I know ended up puking when they did their power hour, and then their actual birthday was ruined,” he said.

Milanowski said he likes that the bill would ban the consumption of massive amounts of alcohol in a short period of time.

“It’s a lot safer for everyone involved,” he said.

But Milanowski, who is turning 21 next week, said he still doesn’t support the idea of not being able to exercise one’s rights as a 21-year-old.

“You’re 21 when you turn 21 Ö I know I am going out on my 21st birthday,” he said.

North Dakota is currently working to pass a similar bill in their Legislature, Lanning said.

Minnesota decided to follow North Dakota’s lead because the two states border each other and can set forth the same law, Lanning said.

Regardless of what the bill might try to enforce, University sophomore Nora Bacher said, students would not support it.

“People are going to drink excessively even if they have to wait another day,” she said.