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Editorial: Social host ordinance makes sense

A couple of weeks ago we criticized Rosemount Liquor for failing multiple compliance checks. Keeping alcohol out of the hands of people too young to legally drink it is part of the deal when you're running a liquor store, we said.

It's even more the responsibility of those kids' parents.

On Tuesday the Rosemount city council approved a so-called social host ordinance that creates penalties for parents who knowingly allow groups of underage individuals to drink in their home. Parents who allow drinking parties can face fines of up to $1,000 and jail terms of up to 90 days for the misdemeanor offense.

That seems plenty reasonable. If it's the job of the liquor store employee to keep kids from buying alcohol, it's the job of the parent to make sure their children are obeying the law.

There are provisions in the new ordinance for parties that take place without a parent's knowledge. If you're out of town and your kid decides to throw a party, there's not much you can do. But if there are kids gathering in your basement while you're watching TV in the living room, the ordinance says, you bear some responsibility for knowing what's going on.

We think that's reasonable.

There are also provisions in the new rule for small family events. If you want to let your son or daughter have a glass of wine at a family dinner, the police aren't going to lead you away in handcuffs. But allowing large groups of teens to drink in your home is more than making a decision about the actions of your child. It affects the children of parents who might not be OK with that.

Rosemount police have not had problems with the kinds of parties addressed in the new ordinance. It's possible they never will. But setting up some reasonable rules so they're prepared for the situation if it arises makes sense.