New regulation sought for party buses

Lawmakers advanced a bill from general file Jan. 21 that would license charter buses that allow consumption of alcohol under the state’s Liquor Control Act.

LB734, introduced last session by Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt, would require companies that operate charter vehicles commonly known as party buses to obtain an annual license from the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission. The commission would have the right to suspend, revoke or cancel the license under the bill. A one-year license would cost $75.

Sen. Megan Hunt
Sen. Megan Hunt

The Legislature decriminalized consumption of alcohol in a chartered bus in 2011, Hunt said, but that law created the unintended consequence of creating “rolling bars” that are havens for overconsumption.

“Nebraska has a precedent that when consuming alcohol is part of your business plan then it’s appropriate for the Liquor Control Commission to have a role in accountability for your business,” she said.

Under LB734, minors would be allowed on party buses but could not drink, Hunt said.

Sen. Tom Briese of Albion spoke in favor of the bill. He said underage drinking is common on party buses—sometimes resulting in tragic outcomes.

“This would not upset the business model that’s in place unless the business model is to target underage drinkers,” Briese said.

A General Affairs Committee technical amendment was approved 30-0 and LB734 advanced to select file on a 33-0 vote.

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