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Lawmaker should bar a bar in our state capitol

August 23, 2011
Salem News

Surely Ohio legislators can get all they need to drink without installing a bar at the Statehouse in Columbus. Alcohol already can be served at special events held in the capitol building. While lawmakers are in Columbus, there are plenty of meet-and-greet events at which beer, wine and liquor flow freely. And, of course, there are bars near the capitol.

A cafeteria in the Statehouse basement already can make alcoholic beverages available when requested for special events. But there is no bar facility per se; alcohol is furnished only on a temporary basis when requested.

We don't blame the caterer who handles such events for suggesting a permanent bar should be set up at the cafeteria. He simply thought doing so would generate additional revenue for the state and, of course, himself.

But, according to published reports, no other state capitol in the nation has a permanent bar. Legislators in other states are sensitive to the message such facilities send, especially to the large groups of young students who frequently tour capitol buildings. They also know legislators have enough trouble convincing voters they are concentrating on the public's business without having to explain why they've installed bars in their statehouses.

Ohio lawmakers - three of whom have been in the headlines for alcohol-related problems during the past few months - ought to be more sensitive than most of their peers in other states in that regard.

The idea of a bar in the Ohio Statehouse has its defenders - but also many critics. The naysayers are right. There is no good reason to establish a permanent bar in the basement, and lawmakers should recognize that and reject the idea.



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