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Supporters of the city legislation say an enhanced tracking system for purchasing kegs would allow Madison Police Department the tools to act on incidents with more efficiency.[/media-credit]

Mayor Paul Soglin recently voiced support for a new ordinance to ramp up keg registration at the time of purchase as a tool for law enforcement officials, which one downtown alder said sends the wrong message about alcohol on campus.

Mark Woulf, the City of Madison alcohol policy coordinator, said the University of Wisconsin asked the city to look at a basic tagging system for kegs. He said tagging would allow law enforcement to track the keg back to the purchaser and make it easier for them to respond to incidents. 

“It is important from a discipline standpoint to know where the flow of alcohol is coming from,” Woulf said.

Woulf said the ordinance has not been developed yet, but many other states and communities have a tagging system in place, and different ways to regulate kegs have been discussed in Madison.

Woulf said a keg tagging ordinance would create more consistency because while some downtown liquor stores already tag their kegs, some do not. It would be helpful to do more research, he added. 

“We don’t want to do anything painful for businesses,” Woulf said.

Woulf said he will most likely take a look at the draft of the ordinance within the next month, and then act from there.

Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said a keg regulation ordinance has been discussed in the city before, but has not been passed by any previous body. He said it poses concerns for identity rights and protection for students.

“I believe that this is an invasion of privacy, and students themselves have the right to be responsible for their own actions,” Resnick said. “We shouldn’t be creating fear around alcohol on campus – it sends the wrong message.”

People will be forced to register any keg rented in city of Madison, Resnick said. The purchaser would be required to leave their name with the liquor store. This would make it easier if officers were to respond to a house party and needed to track back who rented each keg.

Resnick said it is important to consider the costs of the ordinance on the city and the small businesses that sell kegs.

“I’d hate to see someone being tracked to a keg face fines simply for legally purchasing alcohol,” Resnick said.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the Madison Police Department typically receives good cooperation from house party hosts. He said they simply record names of the hosts off the house’s mailbox to begin figuring out who is responsible for a party.

Madison already has a keg delivery ordinance, he said. The ordinance states individuals who wish to have alcohol delivered are required to purchase the alcohol in person and provide identification at a retail liquor establishment.

The purchaser is also required to meet the establishment’s representatives at the point of delivery, he said. He added written records of the delivery must be saved and available for inspection by MPD at any time.

“There is a good reason why a keg registration ordinance has not been advanced in Madison’s City Hall all these years – there hasn’t been a rational for the necessity of it,” Verveer said.