Lawmakers introduce "Social Host" legislation - - Jackson, MS

Lawmakers introduce "Social Host" legislation

By Ashley Conroy - bio | email

Jackson, MS (WLBT) - Mississippians Advocating Against Underage Drinking held a rally at the state capitol on Thursday for lawmakers to introduce the "social host" bill.

Their goal is to bring awareness to the fact that parents or other adults over the age of 21 are holding parties for minors.

"We can't have what we can't get," said MAAUD Co-Chair Caroline Newkirk. "If we decrease that access and that availability, we're doing the right thing."

HB 504 would prohibit any forms of social hosting and make it a misdemeanor with a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail for holding such events.

"A lot of times the parents want to be friends instead of the parents," said Rep. Richard Bennett-R from Longview and bill author. "So I think they need to be held responsible for that."

MAAUD reports that 28 percent of Mississippi students under the age of 13 have tried alcohol, and that this statistic increases the closer they get to graduation.

"Forty to 50 percent of eighth graders report that it's easy to get alcohol," Newkirk said.

University of Southern Mississippi Freshman Brandon Hersey says his motto is that the consequences for drinking alcohol aren't worth trying it.

However, he says the pressures are still there. "It's almost common place," Hersey said. "I mean, you might see a guy walking down the dorm room hallway with a bottle of alcohol."

Meantime, MAAUD member and parent Doug Boone says he has a 14 and 18 year old both in high school.

To him, giving alcohol to a minor doesn't make sense. "As my wife and I like to say, we've got two kids who are making good decisions today," Boone said. "We're looking for every opportunity to help them make good decisions tomorrow as well."

There is also a Senate version of the "social host" legislation, however, neither have been brought up in committee.

Complete text of HB 504.

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