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Supporters expected at hearing on bill allowing "free pass" for some underage drinkers

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - State lawmakers were expecting to hear from UW students and officials Thursday, in support of a bill to not punish underage drinkers if they seek help for intoxicated friends.

The Assembly Colleges Committee was to hold a public hearing Thursday morning on the measure, which has drawn support from lawmakers of both parties.

The original sponsor, Senate Democrat Fred Risser of Madison, said he wanted all 26 UW campuses to have the same policy that Madison now has. He said the university could not suspend a student who seeks help for a friend, and it would throw out any citations from law enforcement.

When the bill was introduced, Dylan Jambrek of the United Council of UW Student Governments said many underage campus drinkers are not willing to come forward to help friends in trouble – even if they see a crime take place like a sexual assault.

The bill’s sponsors say almost 200 university campuses throughout the country have some form of protections for students seeking help.