Madison, WI (AP) – Fourteen-year-olds in Wisconsin could serve alcohol to seated customers in bars and restaurants under a bill circulated for cosponsors Monday by a pair of Republican state lawmakers.
Under current law, only workers age 18 and above can serve alcohol to customers in Wisconsin. The bill would broaden that to workers ages 14 to 17. They could only serve to seated customers, not drinkers who are at the bar itself.
The current age limit on serving alcohol “causes workforce issues due to an establishment’s underage employees only being able to do part of their job,” the bill sponsors Sen. Rob Stafsholt, of New Richmond, and Rep. Chanz Green, of Grandview, said in a memo circulated Monday seeking cosponsors.
They said their idea “creates a simple solution” to the state’s workforce shortage problems in the food and beverage industry. The bill requires the licensed operator of the bar or restaurant be on the premises and supervising.
Although no one under the age of 21 can legally drink alcohol, those under 21, including minors of any age, in Wisconsin can drink in bars and restaurants if they are with their parents.
If the proposal passes, Wisconsin would have the lowest age limit for workers allowed to serve alcohol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
The measure is a long way from becoming law. It must pass the Senate and Assembly, both controlled by Republicans, and be signed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. His spokesperson Britt Cudaback mocked the proposal Monday, listing numerous initiatives Evers has proposed to address the state’s workforce shortage issue including building more housing and funding schools, before forwarding a message detailing the Republican bill.
Photo: Patrons sit in a hotel bar in Eau Claire, Wis., May 1, 2019. Fourteen-year-olds in Wisconsin could serve alcohol to seated customers in bars and restaurants under a bill circulated for cosponsors Monday, May 1, 2023, by a pair of Republican state lawmakers. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP, File)