Missouri lawmaker wants to ban beer bongs, curb rowdy behavior on rivers

JEFFERSON CITY | A state lawmaker is trying to dampen the party on some of Missouri’s popular floating streams.

Newly proposed legislation would ban beer bongs, Jell-O shots, kegs and beaded Mardi Gras necklaces on Missouri rivers.

The bill by Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, was among the first filed Monday as lawmakers began proposing measures for the 2009 legislative session. It has the general support of the Missouri State Water Patrol.

“Without a doubt, some of our floating streams in Missouri have a good amount of lewd behavior — a Mardi Gras-type atmosphere,” said Water Patrol Maj. Tommy Roam, “and there has been discussion from both representatives and senators in trying to come up with a way to curb some of that behavior.”

The rowdiness is concentrated generally along the popular canoeing and rafting streams of the Ozarks.

The target is not the casual floater who sips a can of beer, which would still be allowed. Rather, the bill is aimed at objects that encourage drunkenness, “fighting, solicitation of nudity, obscene language or other lewd behavior.”

Mardi Gras necklaces are frequently used as currency at parties where revelers exchange them for nudity.

The Missouri legislation comes after a similar policy was adopted a couple of years ago by the National Park Service for the Current and Jacks Fork streams that make up the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

Since park rangers started enforcing a ban on beer bongs, kegs and Jell-O shots, “it has cut down on the behavior quite a bit and families are starting to come back,” said Bill O’Donnell, a park ranger on the Current River.

The Missouri legislation would make it a misdemeanor — punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail — to violate the river lewdness prohibitions.

Roam estimates that alcohol is involved in well over 75 percent of the complaints the Water Patrol responds to on rivers.