meeting and protest
COLUMBIA - People against a proposed drink specials ordinance in Columbia have organized a protest for Monday afternoon.
The proposed regulations would limit drink specials between 9 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. Businesses would not be allowed to sell drinks below retail cost during that time frame.
There's a Facebook event for the protest titled, "A Protest Against Prohibition" and as of Sunday night had more than 150 people saying they would attend.
The protest is planned for 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in front of Columbia's city hall. It's just before the council's public hearing on the issue that begins at 3 p.m.
The description on the Facebook event argues the council is, "making laws we don't need for problems we don't have."
The city's Substance Abuse Advisory Commission argues studies show alcohol abuse is a very real problem within the city.
In 2015, the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) served as an independent consultant and conducted a study that surveyed Columbia’s dining, entertainment and nightlife. The study suggested Columbia faces challenges of violence, robbery, sexual assault, vandalism, underage drinking and noise complaints.
This isn't the first time the city council has discussed limiting drink specials. In 2017, the council advised against a proposal to regulate specials. Instead, council members wanted the police department to pick up the slack by enforcing stricter penalties for establishments serving minors.
In February of this year, city council members asked the local health department, the police department and the city's finance and law office to draft an ordinance prohibiting drink specials after 9 p.m.