ST. PAUL (AP) -- A pair of bills aimed at protecting children from hurting themselves or others with alcohol or tobacco passed by huge margins on the House and Senate floors Tuesday.
One of the proposals -- to make adults who give or sell alcohol to minors liable for civil damages if the child hurts someone or something -- sparked a contentious debate on the floor before it was approved 92-39.
''Don't we have enough guts on this floor to kill a bill that is stupid?'' asked Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia.
The bill would apply only if the person over 21 had control over the premises and supplied alcohol to a minor.
Rep. Andy Dawkins worried about how the proposal might affect dating among college students who are a few months different in age.
''Dating and drinking beer is something that goes on pretty often,'' the St. Paul DFLer said.
Dawkins was concerned that a 21-year-old would be financially responsible for damages caused by the 20-year-old date.
''Are you saying that it's OK for a 21-year-old to give alcohol to someone underage?'' responded Rep. Phil Carruthers, DFL-Brooklyn Center. ''That's illegal. Where some innocent party is injured as a result ... then, yeah, maybe there should be some consequence.''
The legislation is the complement to another bill approved last year that dealt with criminal penalties for the same offenses.
Adults now face a felony charges for providing liquor to minors if it contributes to an injury-causing or deadly accident. Previously, the law provided a felony penalty for the sale of alcohol under those conditions, but not if someone gave the alcohol away.
The tougher criminal and civil penalties were championed by Tom Brockway of St. Paul, whose 16-year-old son, Kevin, was killed in a 1997 New Year's Eve crash. Kevin Brockway drank beer, vodka and rum at a party before driving into a tree four blocks away.
The man who supplied the party with alcohol could only be charged with a gross misdemeanor because he didn't sell it to Kevin.
A similar bill was approved last week in the Senate, so it now goes to a conference committee.
A separate bill adopted 63-0 in the Senate attempts to weed out fake identification cards minors use to purchase alcohol or tobacco. Minors caught using a false license or another form of ID could lose their driving privileges for 90 days, face fines and be forced to undergo treatment.
A key feature of Sen. Dave Knutson's bill gives bar owners and retailers the power to seize IDs they believe to be false and turn them over to police within 24 hours for possible prosecution.
''They spot 'em a mile away,'' Knutson, R-Burnsville, said. ''This allows them to take the ID so (the minor) can't do it anymore.''
Under current law, Knutson said, it is questionable whether anyone other than law enforcement officials can seize IDs.
Another part of the bill gives police more authority to deal with truant students. Police officers would be able to go to students' homes and take them to school or a truancy detention center.
A similar bill is awaiting action on the House floor.
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