Some Wisconsin lawmakers are trying to gather support for a bill that would allow minors as young as 14 to serve alcohol at establishments in the Cheese state. The way the law is now, only adults 18 and over can serve alcohol to customers. What's the reason behind this proposed change?
A solution to workforce shortage?
According to bill sponsors Republic Senator Rob Stafsholt and Republican Representative Chanz Green, the goal is to address the workforce shortage across the state. The proposed bill would allow 14-17-year-olds to serve alcohol to seated customers, but not serve customers at the bar. So basically, they can't bartend, but they can deliver drinks to tables at Wisconsin restaurants, bars, and taverns. This would allow younger workers to do the full job as a server.
The bill states that the licensed operator of the establishment must be on location and supervising. The AP via The BeloitdailyNews says that this would be the lowest age limit for workers to serve alcohol in the entire country.
Did you know in Wisconsin kids can drink alcohol with their parents at a bar or restaurant?
Wisconsin also has some pretty loose liquor laws when it comes to minors. According to the state's alcohol laws, a minor can be served alcohol with their parents present in Wisconsin. However, it is at the discretion of the liquor licensee. Ages 18-20 can possess alcohol as part of their employment but are not allowed to drink until 21 years old.
Will it pass?
The bill would need to pass both the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Assembly and Senate, and then be signed by Democratic Governor Tony Evers. Evers has previously introduced other measures to address the workforce shortage, making it unlikely that he would sign this measure.