Kentucky laws make it difficult to find jobs

Jessica Smith

I’m only 40 miles away from home, but it seems more likely that I’ll remain a broke college student. Kentucky laws are preventing me and other students from having one opportunity to work in Bowling Green.

I’ve worked at Ruby Tuesday in Tennessee for two years. When I turned 18, I was allowed to be a server.

When I heard one was being built in Bowling Green, I was excited at the opportunity to serve in a college town. I currently travel back home to work on the weekends, but I wanted to start serving at the Bowling Green Ruby Tuesday when it opens. With Ruby Tuesday’s all day 2-for-1 drink special in a college town, I figured I could rack up awesome tips.

But the law in Kentucky states that I must be 20 years old and a day to serve alcohol, which will prevent me from serving here.

There are several students, like me, who need jobs but they are not 20 years old yet. Most of the jobs in Bowling Green are serving jobs, so for these students the job opportunities become more slim.

If working late hours at the Waffle House isn’t an option, then how should students earn a fair income to support themselves in college or to have some extra spending money?

Dan Gahafer of the Kentucky Alcohol Bureau of Controls said the legislature passed the law to prevent underage drinking. The extra one day was to ensure that the server was at least 20.

In Tennessee, you can serve alcohol at age 18 but you’re required to pass a four-hour course about serving alcohol responsibly and get a certified alcoholic beverage serving card, which is valid for five years.

To make sure restaurants are following state alcohol serving laws, the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission conducts periodic checks of random restaurants for servers’ ABC cards and the restaurant’s liquor license.

But Kentucky has no such system, which leaves the only job for me to do at Ruby Tuesday is to host. Working as a hostess in Kentucky is a less lucrative job. I’ll have to work for an hourly wage, and I’ll make about $160 a week before taxes. In Tennessee, I could earn that much in one weekend.

Kentucky needs to lower the age to serve alcohol to give younger college students the opportunity to make extra money.

If Kentucky uses some of the same regulations Tennessee does regarding laws to serve alcohol at 18 years, such as taking a class and obtaining a permit, alcohol could be served responsibly at a younger age.

Allowing younger students to serve alcohol would not only give them extra money to spend for recreational activities, but also to do things that will enhance a college student’s experience like seeing plays or traveling to support Western sports teams in away games.

Most importantly, students wouldn’t have to rely on Mom and Dad for extra money.

In a state that is so liberal to let one go without a helmet when riding a motor cycle or allow a 16-year-old to get a tattoo, Kentucky needs to step it up and provide younger students with a sufficient way of earning extra money to support themselves in college.

Jessica Smith is a freshman news-editorial major from White House, Tenn.

This commentary does not reflect the views of the Herald, Western or its administration.