Debate rages on in the Nebraska Legislature where Wednesday the public was given a chance to speak in favor or against a bill that would make it illegal for minors to lie during compliance checks on liquor retailers.
Children will often work with law enforcement to see if a retailer will sell them alcohol. This is called a "compliance check." Currently, they can lie about anything. LB 60 would change that.
Larry Gregurich at Big Dog's Beverage in Elkhorn says when it comes to compliance checks, lying should be outlawed. “Where do we stop that lie? If they can say it's alright to lie when they come in to attempt to purchase alcohol, is it okay for them to lie to their parents or their teacher or the police? It's a message I don't think we should be sending the youth.”
Gregurich is in favor of Legislative Bill 60. Law enforcement will often send children into his store to buy liquor. If LB 60 passes, children working a compliance check would have to tell the truth about who they are. “I think we are putting too much pressure on the licensee instead of letting the youth take some responsibility for what they are doing."
If a retailer like Big Dog's Beverage is caught selling liquor to anyone under the age of 21, it can incur a hefty fine. Gregurich says if he catches a minor trying to buy liquor there's nothing he can do about it and a kid can walk out scot-free.
Diane Riibe with Project Extra Mile believes compliance checks are effective because the minors can lie. She says retailers will often ask them if they are working with law enforcement. If they must answer truthfully, the gig is up.
“A lot of wasted resources. I mean as taxpayers we pay a lot to make sure that those in law enforcement operations and that our agencies are committed as they are and to know that that's a tool they can't use would be devastating to the work."
Both sides can agree on one thing. If you check IDs, lies become useless. “I don't know any retailer who wants to sell to kids, that's just the wrong philosophy,” says Gregurich.
Project Extra Mile says compliance checks as they work now are extremely successful. Since 1997, retailers selling liquor to minors during compliance checks have decreased by more than 30 percent.