Story Links Alcohol Industry Contributions and Stalled Nebraska Bill on “Alcohol Impact Zones”

The alcohol industry has contributed thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Nebraska legislators on a committee in which a bill that would curb alcohol purchases to residents on a dry Indian reservation has stalled, The New York Times reports.

The bill would allow authorities to establish “alcohol impact zones” in areas with high levels of alcohol-related crime.

At least seven of the eight senators on the committee considering the bill have received campaign contributions from Anheuser-Busch, according to the newspaper. The company makes Hurricane High Gravity Lager, a high-alcohol malt liquor that is popular among people who sleep outside beer shops in Whiteclay, Nebraska.

Members of the committee have received more than $21,000 from alcohol companies and their lobbyists during the past five years. The members say the contributions have not had any effect on their positions.

Whiteclay sells four million cans of beer and malt liquor a year to residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, just across the border in South Dakota.

In February, the Oglala Sioux tribe demanded that beer manufacturers pay $500 million in damages, in a suit that alleges the companies knowingly contributed to alcohol-related problems on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The tribe is suing for damages for the cost of health care, social services and child rehabilitation that was caused by chronic alcoholism. The tribe is also suing four beer stores in Whiteclay, a town of only about a dozen residents. The tribe’s leaders blame the beer stores for chronic alcohol abuse and bootlegging on the reservation, which bans alcohol.

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