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Lawmakers advance crackdown on open house parties

Lawmakers moved a bill Monday that would impose harsher penalties on adults who violate Florida's house party laws.

It is a misdemeanor in Florida for an adult hosting a party to not try to stop someone under 21 from drinking alcohol. It is punishable by a maximum of 60 days in jail.

The bills (HB 105/SB 746) would up the penalty to a maximum of one year in jail, if the case results in serious injury or death, or involves a repeat offender. Maximum fines would leap from $500 to $1,000.

The St. Pete Times published a story about the bill -- and tragedies stemming from Pinellas County house parties -- last week. Read here.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committeee passed the bill, sponsored by Sen. Thad Altman, R-Rockledge, unanimously Monday, the second Senate panel to do so. The bill needs one more favorable committee vote before it is eligible for a vote on the Senate floor. The Budget Committee has not placed it on the calendar.

Altman introduced a similar bill last year but ran out of time, according to the Times story.

The House companion, sponsored by Rep. Tom Goodson, R-Rockledge, has sailed through committees but has not been debated by the full House.