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House rejects bill to increase alcohol in beer

By Bob Johnson
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama House said "no" Tuesday to a bill that would have increased the alcohol content allowed in beer sold in Alabama.

Rep. Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville, sponsored the bill, which he said would have allowed the sale of some imported and gourmet beers that have a higher alcohol content than the 6 percent now allowed. Jackson's bill would have increased the allowable alcohol content to 14.9 percent.

The bill failed on a 49-39 vote, short of the two-thirds vote required to bring the measure up for a vote.

Jackson said allowing the sale of gourmet and imported beers would help tourism and stop people from driving to neighboring states to buy the products. But some legislators argued it would make it easier for young people to get drunk and would increase the problem of driving of while under the influence of alcohol.

"I can't see us doing something that's going to encourage people to drink more and get drunk faster," said Rep. DuWayne Bridges, D-Valley.

Bridges said the measure would increase the problem of teenagers drinking by making more potent brew available to them.

"Our children don't need to increase their alcohol consumption," Bridges said.

Jackson said the bill would allow the sales of gourmet and imported beers, but would not change the alcohol content in most American made beers.

"Budweiser will still be Budweiser. Miller will still be Miller. That's what the kids drink," Jackson said.

He said most of the beers that would be affected are expensive, costing as much as $7 a beer.

But Rep. Richard Laird, D-Roanoke, said young people would still find a way to drink the stronger beer.

"The only thing this bill will do is just get our young people dead a whole lot faster," Laird said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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