To combat college binge problems, a new bid to lower drinking age to 18

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The debate about lowering the drinking age in Minnesota to 18 is back – but this time a lawmaker says there is one fewer obstacle to overcome.

The Pioneer Press reports that state Rep. Phyllis Kahn has "tried for years" to lower Minnesota's drinking age, and has put forward two bills allowing over-18s to drink in bars and restaurants. They would not be allowed to buy alcohol from liquor stores though.

"It's a very good way to deal with the serious problem of binge drinking, particularly on college campuses," Kahn, who has the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College in her district, told the newspaper.

She believes that lowering the age to 18 will make young adults drink more responsibly, KSTP reports.

She told the news station: "If anyone believes that someone underage can't have someone go into a liquor store and buy them liquor, they need a better introduction to the real world."

Previous attempts to lower the drinking age have been met with opposition – not least from Gov. Mark Dayton – but Kahn claims that reducing the age to 18 will no longer result in the state having to forfeit federal funds.

Has a funding barrier been lifted?

As The Washington Post explains, raising the drinking age to 21 was introduced by the Reagan administration in the 1980s and states were given the choice of either adopting it or losing 10 percent of their federal highway budgets.

But Kahn has been given hope by a landmark Supreme Court ruling that struck down an aspect of the Affordable Care Act, which would have taken away federal Medicaid funding from states that didn't agree with expanding Medicaid.

Because of this ruling, Kahn believes states might not have to give up their highway funding if they lower the drinking age.

Legal experts tend to disagree though, with the Post reporting the reason the Medicaid proposal was rejected was because it represents such a major part of state funding, whereas federal highways funding accounts only for a small portion.

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