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Beer and beans don't mix in House



Club owners who sponsor early-morning dance parties know Rep. John Morroni (R-Clearwater) is out to shut them down. But could it ultimately be the beer industry that kills the rave industry in Florida? As Morroni's "anti-rave" bill goes before the Florida House this week, Sen. Buddy Dyer (D-Orlando) is planning to amend the Senate version. In front of the part that says bar owners can't stay open after 2 a.m. Dyer would insert the words, "except as otherwise provided by county or municipal ordinance." This would allow Jon Marsa's Club at Firestone to stay open. But a little-noticed part of Morroni's bill does nothing to stop club-bound raves which critics and police say are drug-fueled and dangerous. Part three of Morroni's bill would merely make sure liquor control laws are consistent across the state. "A county or municipality may not enact any ordinance that regulates or prohibits" the business of bars, the bill says. That language was inserted at the request of the beer-and -wine industry, which tells horror stories about dry little bergs which have banned alcohol billboards and even prohibited beer trucks from delivering their wares. Anheuser Busch believes a Budweiser truck painted in Pittsburgh should remain legal in Pensacola. But would this expectation clash with Orlando's interest in policing its own house (music)? Louis Rotundo, a lobbyist for Altamont Springs, Maitland, and Marsa, says the industry lobbyists "went out of their way" to allow municipalities to make rules regarding health and safety. City attorney Scott Gabrielson says Orlando officials have gotten assurances from the state that the Morroni bill won't usurp local control, but he's waiting to see what happens during the debate. It would be pushing matters to suggest the beer industry has it in for the rave scene; certainly this impasse is merely a case of unintended consequences. But it is worth considering that in Great Brittain the amount of money spent in alcohol-free rave clubs has topped a fifth of that spent on alcohol, while pub attendance among the young is down. And the club kids say someone "rolling" on beans (ecstacy) is apt to get in trouble if he approaches a typical drunk. The scenario: the clubber is all happy and friendly, the drinker is resentful of this happiness, and perhaps interested in a fight. The clubber doesn't comprehend this until the situation is evil. "Next thing, he's having a heart attack," surmises Nestor Sojo, a 24-year-old club denizen. "Then they blame the drug." The illegal one.

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