Full Senate Passes Small Town Mixed Beverages Election Reqs by a very large margin.
By Rose Dewart
Christian Action League
April 4, 2019
RALEIGH – Tuesday, the North Carolina House ABC Committee held a hearing on HB 389 – ABC/Univ Athletic Facility. The legislation would authorize public colleges and universities to allow beer and wine sales at stadiums, athletic facilities, and arenas located on school property. The bill’s primary sponsors include Representatives John Bell (R-Wayne), Jamie Bolls (R-Moore), Ken Goodman (D-Montgomery), and David Lewis (R-Harnett).
Rep. Bell presented the measure and said 14 of the state’s system schools had signed onto a letter in support of the change. He said that during collegiate sporting events beer and wine sales were already permitted in premiere seating areas. He argued since the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) had lifted its ban on alcohol sales in collegiate stadiums, private universities such as Duke, Wake Forest, and Elon had already taken advantage of stadium-wide alcohol sales.
HB 389 would require a vote by the Trustees of a public college or university to become effective. “It does not require or force them to participate,” said Bell.
Rep. Pat Hurley (R-Randolph) was the lone courageous lawmaker on the committee that expressed opposition to the bill. Hurley noted that alcohol was already prevalent at collegiate sporting events with “tailgating,” which is outside of the stadiums. She said she was concerned that HB 389 would open it up throughout the venue of collegiate sporting events, resulting in more alcohol-related harms for students on college campuses.
Bell responded by making a fairness argument in favor of the bill, saying:
“Currently it’s only in premiere areas. So to break that down, unless you can afford a very expensive ticket, you can’t get to this. So, the general public, the Mom and Dad who wants to take their son and daughter to a ball game, unless they purchase a premiere seating ticket, such as in a blue zone…then they’re not eligible to purchase alcohol. So this would allow them to purchase that in a responsible manner, determining on how the university decides to set that up.”
With a voice of sadness, Hurly responded that she was very concerned.
“I know that your children are very small and not of age to drink,” she said to Bell. “The more outlets that we have, the more opportunities that there are to purchase a drink, and it’s going to cause more DUIs, more accidents, more problems. And I am just very concerned about it being everywhere.”
Rep. Larry Yarborough’s (R-Person) concerns were the opposite of Hurley’s. Yarborough wanted to know why only beer and wine would be available and not mixed beverages too.
“If there is a concert or something and they want mixed beverages is there a way for them to get a permit to do that?” Yarborough asked. Legislative staff answered and explained that mixed beverages could be allowed, but not during any school-sponsored activities.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, sought to address one of the arguments he said had been bandied about in favor of the bill – the contention that if the school sells the alcohol, it will help decrease many of the problems associated with drinking on college campuses.
Creech gave the following speech to the committee:
“College is rife with myths about alcohol and drinking on campus.
“There is the myth that as a student, it’s up to me to drink responsibly. I’m in control. That may sound good, but it’s not the way alcohol often works. Most are not aware that nearly one-third of college students would be given an alcohol abuse diagnosis under psychiatric criteria. While it is true many students will grow out of their excessive use of alcohol; a significant minority will also grow into it. Then there’s the everybody does it myth, from which students feel pressured to binge drink, so they’ll fit in. There’s also my drinking is my own business myth. But excessive alcohol abuse accounts for 1800 deaths, 690,000 assaults, 97,000 incidents of sexual assault and rape, every year on college campuses.
“I suggest that today, with this legislation, we would add to the myths that when universities and colleges sell alcohol during sporting events, it can help decrease alcohol-related problems on campus.
“No scientific evaluations that look at the effects of permitting alcohol sales at college sporting events where it was not previously permitted have ever demonstrated this effect. Non-scientific or non-peer-reviewed evaluations of the same are not reliable, and should not be used to craft public-policy.
“The contention that the method of allowing colleges to sell alcohol at sporting events will result in decreased excessive drinking goes against a long-established core principle found by numerous independent researchers that whenever you make any substance more available, especially alcohol, there is increased use of that substance.
“When the University of Colorado at Boulder instituted a two-year moratorium on alcohol sales in the school’s stadium, compared with the previous year, alcohol-related ejections fell by 50%, arrests fell by 45%, and referrals to judicial affairs fell by 89%. The University chose to keep the ban for two decades, until last year, when pressures from peer universities selling alcohol at sporting events and concerns over budget shortfalls precipitated a change.
“I suggest today that this initiative is driven by similar circumstances. But let us be abundantly clear. If passed, this legislation will come at the expense of one of our most precious resources – our young people – those seeking a college education – those who have the most promise for making a better North Carolina.
“The Christian Action League is prayerful you won’t believe the myth. We are prayerful that you won’t codify it into law.”
Bell sought to counter Creech’s remarks, as well as an email he had previously sent to committee members, which urged them to defeat the bill.
Bell said he had done a lot of research. “I just want you to know that as of 2018 more than 50 NCAA Bowl subdivision schools allow alcohol sales in their stadiums when they play on and off campus.”
Bell then named data from West Virginia, Ohio State, and the University of Texas which he said showed that after allowing stadium-wide alcohol sales, alcohol-related offenses dropped considerably.
Rep. John Hardister (R-Guilford) made the motion for a favorable report. Consideration of the bill took only 13 minutes, and it passed easily out of committee.
Afterward, Rev. Creech said he was very disappointed in the decision. He said lawmakers often fail to understand the more nuanced concerns of alcohol policy.
“The data provided by Bell was not reliable for crafting public policy because it was not a “scientific evaluation,” nor was it from a “peer-reviewed study” that demonstrates the wider scope of how stadium-wide alcohol sales are impacting alcohol-related problems on college campuses. That’s what I was talking about,” said Creech.
“In fact, you can attribute much of the police data he cited to an increased police presence. The data I cited concerning the University of Colorado at Boulder and their 20-year ban on stadium-wide alcohol sales was from a peer-reviewed study. Furthermore, there is nothing in this bill that would require these colleges to adopt the best server practices which would even provide for a ‘controlled environment,’ as Bell says. The bill just leaves it up to the fox to guard the henhouse.”
HB 389 now moves to the House Finance Committee.
In related news, Thursday, the full Senate passed SB 124 – Small Town Mixed Beverage Election Reqs. by a wide margin of 33-8. The 8 brave souls who said “No” to this unconstitutional legislation were:
Sen. Ben Clark (D – Cumberland)
Sen. Don Davis (D-Pitt)
Sen. Erica D. Smith (D-Beaufort)
Sen. W. Ted Alexander (R-Cleveland)
Sen. Jim Burgen (R-Harnett)
Sen. Warren Daniel (R-Avery)
Sen. Carl Ford (R-Rowan)
Sen. Norman Sanderson (R-Carteret)
SB 124 now moves to the House for consideration.
For the full scoop on SB 124 read: Mixed Beverages Election, Sports Wagering, and Gaming Nights Considered by State Lawmakers