The Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature healthcare law, doesn’t specifically address lowering the drinking age, but according to some people in California and Minnesota, a ruling the Supreme Court made about the legislation could be the difference maker that would let states to drop their drinking age from 21 to 18.
Earlier this week, California cleared the signature collection process for a proposed ballot initiative looking to lower that state’s drinking age from 21 to 18, according to KTLA. If the proposal gets the required 365,880 signatures in the next 180 days, California voters would have a chance to voice their opinions on the subject on the same ballot as the presidential election.
Opponents claim that one of the biggest issues with such a law is that the state could lose 10 percent of its federal highway funding. But others believe that’s not the case.
2000 miles away In Minnesota, state representative Phyllis Kahn has been advocating for lowering the drinking age in bars and restaurants to 18 for quite some time. Earlier this year, she once again introduced two bills that could do just that, and this time, she’s hoping that a 2012 Supreme Court ruling could help her cause.
Back in 1984, a federal law passed that said any state with a drinking age under 21 would lose 10 percent of their federal highway funding. However, Kahn believes, and some law professors agree, that the Supreme Court’s ruling on Medicaid expansion in Obamacare back in 2012 established that the federal government can’t hold federal funding over the states’ heads in this way.
“The answer is probably we would not lose those funds, but who wants to be the first one to roll the dice?” Minnesota state representative Joe Atkins told the Press.
Obviously, adjusting the drinking age faces plenty of hurdles in the court of public opinion beyond its relation to highway funding. Still, the fact that states like California and Minnesota are finally challenging this longstanding rule this year could have major repercussions across the US.