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Republican Bill Foster wants to prohibit alcohol in the Statehouse.

February 01, 2000
By: Danel Aguirre
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 1632

JEFFERSON CITY - While some lawmakers are pushing bills to crack down on drunken driving, one House Republican wants to take a step against the possibility of drunken legislating.

A bill introduced by Rep. Bill Foster, R-Poplar Bluff, would ban alcohol use in the state Capitol as of January 2002. Alcohol is banned from all state buildings now, except for the Capitol.

"We have to set a high-standard for society," said Foster. "We can't just promote drug-free school campuses, for example, and don't get respect for ourselves."

Many legislators keep a stockpile of beer and other alcoholic beverages in their offices. Lobbyists often provide the supplies. They even supplied the press offices until about 20 years ago.

Foster said he wants to protect children who visit the statehouse.

"Kids come here and see workers unloading boxes and boxes with all kinds of bottles. It's not a good example," Foster said.

But Democratic Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, doesn't think Foster should prevail.

"He has to live with his own standards, but not to impose them on us," Jacob said.

Jacob doesn't think having a drink in one's office is something to be ashamed of.

"Legislators are here around the clock," Jacob said, "and stress is big sometimes. Many are away from their homes, so I don't see any reason by which somebody couldn't have a drink as people do at home."

Foster argues, however, that drinking in the office is not a good idea.

"We pass laws penalizing drunk drivers, but a legislator can potentially be drunk when voting the laws," Foster said.

But Foster said he wouldn't want to see legislators punished for sneaking a drink.

"We are all adults," he said "and I think we have enough integrity to accomplish something we approve without arriving at that point."