A student government committee plans to lobby against a newly-introduced Wisconsin Senate bill that would allow bars to sue underage patrons on their premises.
At a meeting Monday, the Associated Students of Madison’s Legislative Affairs Committee said the purpose of the bill was to address the “epidemic” of the underage drinking culture in Wisconsin. The bill was introduced Feb. 28.
Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, led the discussion on the bill.
“It’s horrific,” Resnick said. “It’s not the worst, but pretty close to the worst thing in the world. It’s a huge overreach. It’s the wrong way to set the culture. It promotes the exact opposite type of culture that the legislation wants to enforce, and it goes to the point of going against the spirit of why people should support a drinking age of 21.”
Members of the Legislative Affairs Committee agreed this bill seemed to go “above and beyond,” boundaries and said it is clearly targeting college students.
The committee plans to lobby against this legislation by targeting not only the legislators sponsoring the bill but also legislators who would vote on the proposal.
ASM’s message will be consistent in saying there are already punitive damages for underage drinking and this is not an appropriate way to address the problem, according to Legislative Affairs Committee Chair Daniel Statter.
“There are proven techniques that work for this problem, proven here on this campus in our law school,” Statter said. “We already know it is something that will not work.”
He added the committee plans to tell legislators how the bill is unnecessary in their lobbying efforts.
The Legislative Affairs Committee concluded the discussion by addressing the harm this bill would inflict on students.
Members said they were concerned about these companies making profits off of students.
In addition to the Senate bill, Legislative Affairs intern Ryan Prestil introduced his “Tenants’ Bill of Rights” draft to committee members.
Prestil explained his plan to encourage cooperation between landlords and tenants while protecting tenants from potentially unfair treatment from their landlords.
“The plan is to protect tenants from anything that could be in the lease that was protected before, but that isn’t today,” Prestil said. “I want to raise awareness and protect tenants.”
Prestil plans to meet with around 30 different landlords who house campus students. He said he hopes to have this measure approved by Student Council and then be able to propose the ideas to the landlords.
He said if landlords agree to put his plan in their leases, he would endorse them through campus awareness and resources.
The committee will hold an outreach meeting on Wednesday to train students on how to meet with landlords and plan strategies for volunteers looking to promote the document.