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Leaders sample drinks before voting on them
By Amber Krosel | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/13/2008 12:12 AM

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SPRINGFIELD - Illinois lawmakers cracked down on alcoholic energy drinks Wednesday even as some cracked open a few.

An Illinois Senate committee voted 8-2 to require stricter labeling requirements on the increasingly popular bottles of "buzz," which a couple of members sampled during the debate.

State Sen. Rickey Hendon, a Chicago Democrat, said many of the brightly colored cans look similar to their non-alcoholic counterparts that are popular among teenagers. Lawmakers were brought both kinds of energy drinks.

"I think we should be able to tell the difference," said Hendon before popping open a Sparks alcoholic-energy drink during the afternoon hearing. He voted for the new restrictions.

The legislation in question would require the drinks be clearly marked as alcoholic and list alcohol content and other information.

Mark Strawn, Miller Brewing Co.'s legislative consultant, rebutted claims that products like its Sparks are mistaken for nonalcoholic ones.

"It is not marketed as an energy drink," Strawn said during testimony. "It is sold with other wines, beers and alcohol."

The legislation now goes to the full Senate for consideration.