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Tailgating bill headed for a vote

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Rep. Carano's measure has YSU in mind.
COLUMBUS -- A bill that would allow some public colleges, universities and professional sports teams to designate areas on their property for tailgating is headed for a vote by the Ohio House of Representatives next week.
The measure's sponsor, state Rep. Kenneth A. Carano, D-Austintown, said he doesn't expect much opposition.
"I anticipate it will pass very easily," Carano said Friday.
Alcohol consumption
The bill, which passed the House State Government Committee this week, would create a T-1 temporary liquor permit that would allow colleges and universities with full-time enrollments of 15,000 students or fewer or professional sports teams to allow consumption of beer and liquor in restricted areas on property they own or lease. The permits are good for only three consecutive days. They cost $50.
Colleges and universities with full-time student enrollment of more than 15,000 would not be able to apply for the proposed permit, according to a legislative analysis of the bill.
Carano said the intent of his measure would be to limit its effect to Youngstown State University, which is near his House district. Most universities with a similar or smaller enrollment do not have intercollegiate football games, which are the events often proceeded by tailgate parties, Carano said.
Carano has acknowledged that the proposal could allow qualified universities to apply for permits for other sports, such as basketball or cross country and other events.
According to the Ohio Board of Regents 2003-04 head count, the state university main campuses that fall under 15,000 students are YSU at about 13,100; Shawnee State University in southern Ohio at about 3,800; and Central State University in southwestern Ohio at a little over 1,800.
Of those schools, only YSU and CSU have intercollegiate football teams, according to those universities' Web sites.
In an enclosed area
According to Carano and his bill, applicants for the permit would have to specify the time and location of the events at which alcohol would be consumed.
Further, the bill says the proposed permit wouldn't allow liquor or beer sales.
The proposed permit would allow guests to bring and consume alcohol in an enclosed area "with security personnel stationed at each exit to prevent any person from leaving with an opened flask or other container of beer or intoxicating liquor," the bill states.
Carano had introduced a similar measure in the last General Assembly. That bill passed the Ohio House but died in the Senate when the previous two-year legislative session ended in December.
Some raise concerns
Carano said he retooled the measure to limit it to colleges with enrollments of 15,000 full-time students or fewer after concerns were raised by other universities, including Ohio State University, and Republican Gov. Bob Taft that Carano's measure, if enacted, might conflict with work at the colleges to reduce problem-drinking and underage liquor consumption.
Carano has said that he introduced the original bill after press reports that there was a rule on the books in Ohio banning open containers of alcohol on public parking lots.
Publicity over the apparently little-known rule had made some officials at YSU nervous, leading to the proposal, Carano has said.
The Ohio House is to consider the measure on Wednesday.