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Iowa bill would allow minors to serve alcohol in restaurants

This summer, teenagers working in Iowa restaurants could be able to service alcoholic drinks to customers.

MOLINE, Ill. — This summer, teenagers working in Iowa restaurants could be able to serve alcoholic drinks to customers.

There's a bill under consideration in the Iowa legislature that would remove the current age restrictions. 

Republican Iowa State Representative John Wills says the bill was proposed because of the current workforce issues. 

In an era, we are in where we have a workforce issue, this is an effort to correct this law, fix it, allow these kids to carry drinks, to the table,” said Wills. 

Currently, Iowa’s unemployment rate sits at 3.1%. Almost 150,000 people are working in the hospitality industry. 

Under current state law, only people 18 and over can serve alcohol to a customer. Minors can take the beverage order and return the drink to the kitchen after consumed, but they can’t go from bar to table. Instead, minors must request someone of age to serve the beverage. 

I really don't want to see 16-year-olds working in bars and carrying drinks. And so that's why I keep saying restaurants and pubs. A solid majority of the business must be food,” said Wills. 

Wills says Iowa restaurant owners are now opting out of hiring teenagers because of the inconvenience. 

“Some restaurant owners are like 'I just think that that would open up some liability.' And I'm like sure, but you have the option,” said Wills. 

Happy Joes CFO Hollie Matthys says the local family restaurant probably won’t implement this change. 

"Naturally, it would be easier from a labor standpoint that somebody could go do that and serve alcohol to everybody. But I just think, logistically from our background, and the environment that we have that I would be more concerned, about minors serving alcohol,” said Matthys.    

Wills says Iowa restaurant owners are even closing some days because they don’t have the staff to cover the minors. Matthys says the pizza restaurant hasn’t done this and doesn’t plan on doing it in the future. 

I mean, we've done it for so many years this way, that I don't think it'll be a major impact on us one way or the other,” said Matthys. 

The proposed bill is currently in the beginning stages. It’s passed the subcommittee, but still needs senate and house approval and the governor’s signature before it could take effect. The earliest the change could be seen would be this July. 

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