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Maryland senator proposes bill allowing U.S. troops to drink at age 18

The bill would allow service personnel under 21 to drink beer or wine after showing military identification.

By Fred Lambert

FREDERICK, Md., March 1 (UPI) -- A senator in Maryland is proposing a bill that would allow 18-year-old members of the U.S. military to drink alcohol.

Sen. Ron Young, D-Frederick, made the proposal to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on Friday.

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"If someone can risk their life, why shouldn't they be able to have a glass of beer or wine with dinner?" Young said.

The bill would allow service members under 21 to drink beer and wine at a bar or restaurant after showing valid military identification. The law would not allow legal drinking of hard liquor or buying alcohol at a store to take home.

According to The Frederick News-Post, a state transportation official pointed out that Maryland would lose $32 million in highway funds for not complying with a federal drinking age standard.

Young offered an amendment to the bill Friday, suggesting lawmakers request a waiver in order to change the drinking age and still acquire the funds.

Eric Backes, state legislative manager for the Maryland State Highway Administration, told the Post that the federal government has denied such waivers in the past and pointed out that no other state has been successful at passing the type of bill Young is proposing.

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Young said he was 28 when he first tasted alcohol and that he has never been drunk, but he said constituents have repeatedly asked him, "why should an 18-, 19-, 20-year-be asked to go overseas and risk his life and he can't come in the [American] Legion or to a restaurant and have a beer?"

"If you can carry a weapon and defend your country you should be able to drink a beer," retired Air Force veteran and and 51-year-old bar owner Sherman Lacy told CBS. "But do it on a military base or post. There's more control on a military post. The military can handle it."

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