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Lt. Gov., Acting in Andrus’ Stead, Vetoes Drinking Age Law

February 25, 1987

BOISE, Idaho (AP) _ Lt. Gov. C.L. ″Butch″ Otter on Tuesday vetoed legislation raising Idaho’s legal drinking age from 19 to 21, saying it was a states’ rights issue that should not be mandated by Congress.

″I firmly believe the time has come to express our disapproval, as a state, of the usurpation of ... Idaho’s sovereign power by the Congress and the president, acting on behalf of the federal government,″ said Otter.

Legislation raising the state’s legal drinking age cleared the Legislature last week and was sent to the governor’s office Tuesday.

Otter, a Republican, is acting as governor since Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus is at the National Governors’ Association conference in Washington, D.C.

Otter said he informed Andrus of his intentions on the drinking-age bill. ″This will not come as a surprise to the governor,″ he said.

Otter said he wants the House to pass an alternative bill which already has cleared the Senate. It also raises the drinking age from 19 to 21, but declares that if South Dakota wins a U.S. Supreme Court challenge to the federal mandate, then Idaho’s drinking age will return to 19.

Idaho can then make the decision whether to raise the legal drinking age without the threat of losing federal highway funds, he said.

Federal officials said Idaho will lose $4.5 million federal highway funds this year and up to $45 million in the next five years if it does not meet the congressional mandate to raise the drinking age.

Idaho is one of a handful of states, mainly in the West, which have refused to raise the drinking age.

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