County flinches on Social Host ordinance

Brown County commissioners had a chance to take a significant action in the battle against underage alcohol consumption on Tuesday. But they flinched. Badly.

Commissioners were considering a Social Host ordinance. Every city in the county has passed a similar ordinance, which makes it illegal to host a party or social gathering knowing that alcohol will be served to or consumed by underage minors. It puts responsibility on parents, or the owners of a property who allow their property to be used for underage drinking parties.

Law enforcement officials said at Tuesday’s County Board meeting that social host ordinances in the towns in Brown County have pushed drinking parties out into the rural areas. It only makes sense to have a unified approach to this problem throughout the county.

But in the face of objections from some township officials and others who consider it too big an intrusion on property owners’ rights, or whatever their objection, county commissioners quailed. Commissioner Scott Windschitl’s motion to approve the ordinance didn’t even get a second from the rest of the board. How disappointing.

County commissioners should know in their hearts that this is the right thing to do. They should summon the courage it takes to do it.

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