Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hey all...

Not much to report on my front. I'm caught up doing a lot of non-legislative work again. This week seems to be filled with a lot of interesting bills in committees. I took up a driver's license bill today. Here's the text...

RALEIGH -- A new plan to change drivers licenses is cruising toward approval at the state legislature.

Monday, a senate committee approved the idea that changes the look of licenses for those under 21 years old. Advocates hope the idea will cut down on under age drinking.

At John Hernly's restaurant, his company goes the extra mile to help prevent his employees from serving minors.

"We have a bars program," the Champps General Manager said. "We have undercovers that we pay coming in here to check up on us constantly so we're always aware of that."

Lawmakers are working on a way to make it easier for bars and restaurants to check id's.

"It simply changes anyone's driving license from horizontal with which you're familiar with to vertical because the number of complaints and sales to minors of alcohol," Sen. Stan Bingham (R-Davidson) said.

Those complaints come from ALE. This year, during 700 compliance checks, ALE officers found that under age drinkers were able to buy alcohol 18-percent of the time.

21 states already use the vertical id for people under 21 including Virginia, where Hernly use to work.

"It's a lot easier for the staff to recognize under 21 you know and I think it's harder to alter the id," Hernly said.

North Carolina currently uses color coding systems to identify those under 21 and 18 but retailers believe this new id is a better solution.

So far, there has been no vocal opposition to the proposals. Supporters understand it won't cure underage drinking but it will help.

The bill still needs approval on the House and Senate floors and from Governor Easley. If it passes, the new licenses will start in October.

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