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Community Asks Neb. Governor to Reverse 'Alcopops' Ruling

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A community coalition is calling upon Nebraska's governor and attorney general to reconsider a ruling by the Liquor Control Commission that allows flavored malt beverages – a.k.a. 'alcopops' — to be classified and taxed as beer rather than distilled spirits, the Omaha World-Herald reported Oct. 27.

In a press conference arranged by the prevention group Project Extra Mile, police and health officials joined community representatives in urging state leaders to tax alcopops at the higher rate assigned to distilled spirits as a way to discourage underage drinking. “Governor, now would be a great time to show Nebraska youth and their parents that you truly care about their health and safety,” said T.J. Ewin, an Omaha high-school senior.

The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission voted in October to continue to classify alcopops as beer.

Project Extra Mile's executive director, Diane Riibe, said that Gov. Dave Heineman and Attorney General Jon Bruning should reverse the liquor panel's decision. Riibe said the commission's ruling was in conflict with state law that defines spirits as “any beverage which contains alcohol obtained by distillation, mixed with water or other substance in solution.” 

The liquor board had criticized Riibe for suggesting that members were insensitive to underage drinking problems in the state. However, Tim Regler, a community organizer with Parents and Communities Together, said the panel was contributing to an environment that views youth drinking as acceptable.

Hobert Rupe, executive director of the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, said the classification approved by the commission will be sent to Bruning for verification. The governor has the final word on the ruling.

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