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The so called “hour of power” bill is as noble as it is useless.

A recent editorial suggested the Nebraska Legislature should kill the “hour of power” as fast and as dead as it can. Perhaps the Legislature should do just that, but LB 294 is hardly an effective or permanent solution. Attempting to legislate away a problem like binge drinking is about as effective as trying to turn off a garden hose by putting your hand over the end.

Legislating and enforcing a new law is a slow, arduous process. Thinking up a drinking game is a short one. The number of games aimed at mindless alcohol consumption is barely finite, and I’d be willing to bet it increases every day. Lawmakers that think they can eradicate this problem by eliminating each drinking game need to sober up.

The “hour of power” is a perfect example. The game is for freshly 21 year olds to drink from midnight on their birthday until bars close at 1 or 2 am. LB 294 would outlaw serving these 21 year olds on the night of their birthday. Bars would no longer serve these individuals, but would that really stop the binge drinking.

These newly 21 year olds are obviously being accompanied by “of age” friends to play this game. So this may remove the game from the bar, but would likely just relocate it to someone’s home. From what I’ve seen there are a lot more drinking games played in houses around town than in bars. Plus, it’s a lot easier and cheaper to get obnoxiously drunk at home than it is at the bar.

It is irresponsible to launch 21 year olds into binge drinking on the first night it’s legal. But it’s not any more irresponsible than doing the same thing the second or third night a person is of drinking age.

What’s really irresponsible is to think binge drinking is a problem that can be solved after a person turns 21. At 21 most people are away at college or another pursuit. They learn to drink surrounded by peers who are hardly any more experienced.

If the topic of drinking is broached at a younger age, 21 year olds won’t be forced to learn by trial and error. Children need to be taught to understand and respect alcohol at a younger age and ideally at home, by their families. Otherwise they will have plenty of time to learn once they are out on their own.