From the Arkansas Statehouse...

Pretty good day for vice.

In Booze News on 18 March 2009 at 2:05 pm

Lovers of fruity alcoholic beverages can breath a little easier today after the House Rules Committee refused to recommend a bill that would restrict the sale of so-called alcopops. The bill would have raised the tax on such drinks as Mike’s Hard Lemonade. It would have also prohibited gas stations and grocery stores from selling the drinks.

Bill supporters argued that the beverages should be restricted because they are often a teenager’s entryway into drinking. They also said the drinks are more akin to spirits than malt beverages. Though alcopops are brewed like beer, they said, the beer taste and fermented alcohol are removed and replaced with spirits-infused fruit flavors.

A senior at University of Arkansas urged passage of the bill so as to stem what she called “hundreds” of underage drinking arrests on campus. After the comely witness testified that she might like to one day run for the legislature herself — “Which one of us are you going to take out,” Rep. Rick Green unfortunately joked — she said alcopops were frequently consumed by underage girls who were fooled by the refreshing flavors. (The marketing image of these drinks is unquestionably feminine. See this excellent Slate piece on the recent demise of Zima, the original “malternative.”)

Committee members were apparently unsatisfied by Rep. Gene Shelby’s statement that his bill would raise $150,000 in annual revenue. They were more susceptible to the position of a gas station association, which argued that restricting the beverages would cut an important source of retailer revenue.

Other victories for vice in House Rules today included approval of a bill that will reduce the newly raised cigarette tax in the city of Marion and recommendation of a measure that will allow alcohol sales at horse tracks during all hours of business operation. Both bills are sponsored by Rep. Keith Ingram of West Memphis.

Those of fastidious morality make take some consolation in the committee’s approval of Rep. Barry Hyde’s bill to ban smoking on public college and university campuses.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: