If you can die for your country, should you be able to drink beer?

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
Should under-age military service members be allowed to drink beer?

A bipartisan group of Maryland lawmakers want to lower the state's drinking age to 18 for members of the military.

The proposal would not allow for liquor store sales, but would let Maryland's estimated 21,000 under-age service members belly up to a bar for wine or beer.  

Shots and martinis would still be reserved for the over 21 crowd.

The idea comes with a hefty price tag. Legislative analysts said lowering the drinking age could jeopardize about 10 percent of the federal highway money Maryland receives each year, thanks to a provision in the 1984 Federal Uniform Drinking Age Act.

The state could stand to lose about $31 million a year in federal funds. Analysts said the sum could not be replaced by taxes on the new drinkers. Assuming that 90 percent of them chose to partake in libations, it would generate about $531,000 in alcohol taxes per year.

The Senate's Education, Health and Environmental Affairs committees are scheduled to hold a hearing on the proposal Friday afternoon. 

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