Students, bar owners question minor bill
STEPHANIE FRIEDMAN Daily Texan Staff, Date 02/01/1997
[ Photo Missing - Hole in the Wall bartender
Brooks Brannon fills a pitcher of Shiner Bock for a customer. Brannon
has been working at Hole in the Wall for over five years. Hole
in the Wall will be affected by the bill since it allows 18-20
year-olds into its establishment. ]
While a state legislator continued to push for
passage of a bill prohibiting minors from entering bars, students
and bar owners expressed doubts Tuesday that the law would be effective.
Rep. Leo Alvarado, D-San Antonio, requested a committee
hearing Tuesday for House Bill 599, which would prohibit minors
from entering bars regardless of whether they are allowed to purchase
Doug Cugini, owner and manager of Hole in the
Wall Arcade and Restaurant on the Drag, said sufficient laws
already exist to prevent underage drinking.
"If they think that it's going to prevent minors
from drinking, I don't think many minors drink in bars," Cugini
said. "We're pretty well regulated as it is. Other than Sixth Street,
not that many clubs here in Austin let minors in anyway."
Adrian Rodriguez, a government sophomore, said
it would be harder for minors to take advantage of Austin's renowned
live music scene if the bill becomes law.
"I don't think this bill is economically feasible
for businesses because a lot of their revenue comes from students
under the age of 21," Rodriguez said. "It will also take away from
the prestige of Austin as 'The Live Music Capital of the World.'
It will make it harder for bands to get a large audience."
"I won't have the opportunity to see a lot of
live bands I would like to see if this bill gets passed," he added.
More than 18,000 UT undergraduates -- 51.6 percent
-- are in the 18-to-20-year-old age group that would be affected
by the legislation.
Glenn Demboski, a liberal arts sophomore, said
bars "will find loopholes if [the law] offers them. If the clubs
don't find loopholes, then the kids will find loopholes. Kids are
"There will be more fake IDs" if the bill passes,
Carolyn Gebhard, an anthropology freshman, said.
Minors would be exempt from the law when attending
a bar with a parent, guardian, or over-21 spouse. Minors who work
in bars would also be exempt. The law would not apply to restaurants
that serve alcohol but generate at least 65 percent of their revenue
The next step in the legislative process is a hearing
before the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee,
which will issue a recommendation before the entire House votes
on the bill.
Nikita Tolbert, an aide to committee chair Ron
Wilson, D-Houston, said she had "no idea" when the bill would come
before a hearing or whether the bill would ever become law.
"It's very hard to gauge whether a bill will pass
or not," Tolbert said. "This, along with 30 other bills, has been
referred to Ron's committee, and he doesn't have time to read every
one of them."
Wilson "doesn't even know this bill exists right
now," Tolbert said.
Cugini said the law's effect on Hole in the
Wall "would depend on how they enforce it."
"I don't think it will affect us as long as minors
can come class="maintxt"in when our restaurant is open," Cugini
"After the restaurant closes, when we serve alcohol,
we check IDs and don't let people under 21 in. It's just too much
trouble, and they don't generate that much revenue anyway."
Rep. Pat Haggerty, R-El Paso, a member of the Licensing
and Administrative Procedures Committee, said the bill may force
some bars to move their concerts elsewhere.
"I haven't read the bill," Haggerty said. "But
I don't think it's endangering [bars'] business -- it's just endangering
their business practices. They would have to move the venues of