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Of lone votes, outliers and powdered booze

in Top Headlines by

When you are the lone vote on a bill, whether you like it or not, you are going to get noticed. And when you stand out like that, it’s probably a good strategy to get noticed in the right way.

That’s why yesterday’s lone vote by state Rep. Greg Steube against the ban on powdered alcohol was more than a little odd. “We’re banning something that we don’t even know what it is.”

Say what?

For the record, we do know what it is. In fact, we know exactly what it is. Palcohol, as it is called, is a little packet of booze in powdered form. It’s dehydrated alcohol, plain and simple. Nobody, except that lone “no,” is even disputing that.

And these little packets have serious mischief written all over them. Just think how easy it is for underage kids to sneak this stuff into sporting events or concerts or picnics or a restaurant or a backyard barbeque or into school. And when some kid gets hammered on Palcohol while dining at a local pizza joint and plows into a truck, who is going to be able to prove that the restaurant didn’t serve him the alcohol? Can you say dram shop liability?

Or imagine unscrupulous idiots upping the octane in an unsuspecting date’s drink. This stuff is snortable and too easily transportable. It’s bad news.

Steube probably has some good personal reasons for opposing the ban and I sincerely respect that, but he certainly didn’t do himself any favors with folks back home with that line of “we don’t even know what it is” logic. The libertarian logic might work here but the head-in-the-sand won’t.

Which brings us to the other notable outlier voice in this debate, the product’s inventor, Mark Phillips.

Phillips does invoke a libertarian tone, claiming, “No one wants a nanny state telling its citizens what they can and cannot drink.”

No one?

The very reason the states are the only ones with the authority to ban it is because the 21st Amendment requires that. That amendment specifically delegates this power to the states and it is worth noting that it was widely supported by both houses of Congress and to this date is still the only amendment to the Constitution ratified by actual state conventions. And the very essence of that amendment was to re-allow alcohol consumption in the United States by requiring the states to do just that: tell citizens (and non-citizens) what they can and cannot drink.

And, last we checked, it’s still a part of our nation’s charter document. So it’s probably no exaggeration to say “no one wants a nanny state telling its citizens what they can and cannot drink” is demonstrably untrue and provably false.

Look, it is the responsibility of the state to protect us from ourselves when it comes to drinking alcohol -– powdered or not. We limit drinking age, we restrict hours of consumption, set levels allowable to be able to operate a motor vehicle, limit concentration of alcohol in a beverage, and even determine who is allowed to sell it.

Until this stuff is proven to be safe, the lawmakers who support this ban -– and as of this writing, that is the vast majority of them -– are on the right side of this issue.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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