Bill to allow minors to eat in bars barely passes

UPDATED: BISMARCK—A bill that would allow minors in bars under certain circumstances created some small town vs. big town debate in the state House on Monday.

House Bill 1307 would allow minors in bars if they are there to eat, if the bar serves tabletop food prepared in a kitchen with at least an indoor grill and if the bar is smoke-free.

The bill barely passed with a 50-42 vote, despite a do-not pass recommendation from the Human Services Committee.

The committee debated the bill at length, said Rep. Curt Hofstad, R-Devils Lake. It got to the point where it became “a nightmare” for law enforcement, parents, bar owners and competing establishments, such as restaurants in small towns, he said.

Bill sponsor Rep. Jon Nelson, R-Rugby, said it would be up to the bar owners if they wanted to go smoke-free and serve food to minors. Parents could also not allow their children to eat there if they’re concerned, he said.

Rep. Phil Mueller, D-Valley City, said minors can now eat at places like Applebee’s and Ruby Tuesday where there are bars.

“How this is any different, I do not know,” he said.

Rep. Dave Weiler, R-Bismarck, said a bar may be the only place to eat in some small towns.

Rep. Wes Belter, R-Fargo, said legislators also need to keep in mind the state’s bigger cities like Fargo and Minot. Bars have different atmospheres than an Applebee’s or a Ground Round, he said.

Legislators need to be careful about telling minors that they can go into a bar at any time, order food and sit around to see what’s happening in the bar, Belter said.

The bill now moves to the Senate.

Here was the vote breakdown:


HB 1307: Century Code, relating to individuals under twenty-one years of age allowed in

alcoholic beverage establishments.


The question being on the final passage of the bill, which has been read, and has committee recommendation of DO NOT PASS, the roll was called and there were 50 YEAS, 42 NAYS, 0 EXCUSED, 2 ABSENT AND NOT VOTING

YEAS: Amerman; Anderson; Beadle; Boe; Boehning; Clark; Conklin; DeKrey; Delmore;

Dosch; Glassheim; Guggisberg; Hanson; Hawken; Headland; Heilman; Holman;

Johnson, D.; Kaldor; Kasper; Kelsh, J.; Kelsh, S.; Kempenich; Kilichowski;

Kretschmar; Kroeber; Maragos; Martinson; Meier, L.; Metcalf; Meyer, S.; Mock;

Mueller; Nathe; Nelson, J.; Nelson, M.; Onstad; Ruby; Schatz; Steiner; Streyle;

Thoreson; Trottier; Wall; Weiler; Wieland; Williams; Winrich; Wrangham; Zaiser


NAYS: Bellew; Belter; Brabandt; Carlson; Dahl; Damschen; Delzer; Devlin; Frantsvog; Froseth; Grande; Gruchalla; Hatlestad; Heller; Hofstad; Hogan; Hunskor; Johnson,

N.; Karls; Keiser; Kelsch, R.; Kingsbury; Klein; Klemin; Koppelman; Kreidt; Kreun;

Louser; Monson; Owens; Paur; Pietsch; Pollert; Rohr; Rust; Sanford; Schmidt;

Skarphol; Sukut; Vigesaa; Weisz; Speaker Drovdal


ABSENT AND NOT VOTING: Brandenburg; Porter

HB 1307 passed.