Legislative give-and-take worked Wednesday.
The Legislature's General Affairs Committee removed a singularly troubling provision from an omnibus liquor bill that would have let 16-year-olds serve alcohol. Even Maine, with the lowest minimum in the nation, draws the line at 17.
Nebraska is wise to keep the minimum age at 19. Sen. Tyson Larson of O'Neill had proposed the younger age in Legislative Bill 1105, hoping to help rural employers. And the youngest servers would have been required to take a state-certified training course. But Hobart Rupe, executive director of the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, poured a shot of sobering reality on that idea.
"You're still relying on that person's judgment," Rupe told The World-Herald. "Unfortunately, we have had people fail compliance tests a week after taking that course."
That's because peer pressure can outweigh judgment. Need proof? Ask Amanda Heiman. This 20-year-old, who had undergone training, was convicted of a felony after serving alcohol to an underage friend in 2012. Jason Dickmeyer, 18, left the bar, rolled a car at 90 mph and died.
"I didn't realize me trying to fit in and serve them a few beers would eventually lead me into losing a friend," Heiman told legislators.
Kudos to Larson for listening. The bill is better as a result.