"Whenever you talk about alcohol-related bills, there's always controversy," says Jeanerette state Rep. Troy Hebert. But Hebert, who's a public defender of cockfighting and last year took to the state capitol steps to protest the way Gov. Kathleen Blanco stripped him of his House Insurance Committee chairmanship, isn't known to shy away from a showdown.
One of his latest bills has drawn the ire of fellow legislators as well as the Mothers Against Drunk Driving advocacy group, who see it as a weakening of alcohol regulation. The bill seeks to allow daiquiri machines in the 6,000 grocery and convenience stores across the state that are already licensed to sell pre-packaged liquor. Hebert's bill, HB 754, would also allow them to sell frozen drinks that are mixed away from public view and put into cups with a lid. It is expected to come up for a vote on the House floor sometime this week.
"I know it's ironic but I don't even drink," Hebert says. He contends his bill only clarifies the law and does not stray from existing regulations.
"It's no different than the wine coolers or the Bacardi and Coke packages that are in the cooler now that they sell," he says. "My bill doesn't allow [retailers] to mix somebody a screwdriver ' that's a barroom."
State Alcohol and Tobacco Commissioner Murphy Painter, who is not allowed to take a position on legislation, wondered what the ultimate effect of the bill would be.
"It's going to change the whole definition and whole theory behind different [alcohol] licenses," he says, adding that it could override local ordinances that prevent daiquiri stores from operating close to churches and schools. "Anyone could manufacture any kind of mixed drink with ice, put a lid on it and say that you're abiding by the law."
Hebert says he would be open to amendments to further clarify the intent of his bill, which he doesn't expect to supercede local zoning ordinances or to open the door for retailers to sell pre-mixed cocktails.
"Frozen drinks," Hebert says. "That's all we're dealing with here, and if you read the bill, it's pretty darn clear." ' NS
LOUISIANA PRESS WOMEN HONOR INDEPENDENT STAFFERS
Independent Weekly Photo Editor Terri Fensel and Editorial Director Leslie Turk were honored with multiple awards at the Louisiana Press Women's annual Margaret McDonald Journalism Contest banquet on May 21. Turk won first place in the Feature Story category for non-daily newspapers and also earned second-place honors for news reporting.
Fensel was the banquet's big winner, capturing the sweepstakes category for most awards earned. Fensel swept the news, feature and photo categories on her way to racking up 13 awards. Fensel and Turk's first place entries will now be entered into the National Federation of Press Women's competition, and winners will be announced in September. ' SJ
TSUNAMI OWNERS INVEST IN BATON ROUGE
Tsunami owners and sisters Michele Ezell and Leah Simon have a financial interest in the Lava Room, which opened Friday in downtown Baton Rouge.
Ezell and Simon are minor investors and won't be involved with running the restaurant, a Cuban-inspired eatery by day and Spanish tapas bar by night.
The duo, which got its start in Lafayette more than five years ago, opened a Tsunami restaurant atop the Shaw Center for the Arts in downtown Baton Rouge three months ago. It's the Shaw Center's former director, Andre Mika, who is the majority owner of the Lava Room.
"It's very decidedly West Coast," Mika says. His wife, Jami, who once worked as an interior designer for Merv Griffin's Beverly Hilton Hotel, created the interior's look. "It's very theatrical, deep, deep dark red room, very contemporary furniture, a lot of cool lighting," says Andre, who declined to disclose the total investment in the Third Street restaurant ' a spot that previously housed the Brazilian restaurant Marrazil. ' LT
The Lafayette superintendent insists the budget is illegal and vows to fight on.
"I am not a scientist," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said numerous times, a response that other members of his party have parroted.
Republicans are running strong races against endangered Democratic incumbents in states such as North Carolina, Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska. Republicans are also looking to replace retiring Democrats in Iowa and West Virginia with a GOP lawmaker.
Republican congressman Vance McAllister is trying to make up to Louisiana voters for getting too close to a married former employee.
You may not like all of “it,” but U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, unlike many of her colleagues, isn't sitting around twiddling her thumbs in Congress.
Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro says he "can't wait" to play against Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The heat keeps rising for Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal as a new slate of corruption allegations surfaced this week.
If opposing defenses sell out to stop the Packers' passing game, they risk being gashed by powerful running back Eddie Lacy, a New Orleans-area native.
At the horn the officiating crew trotted to the tunnel and left security personnel to clean up after them.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Sign "ninjas" cleaning up clutter; NYC doctor positive for Ebola; Ferguson grand jury decision nears; and more national and international news for Friday, October 24, 2014.
We can safely assume incumbent Chief K.P. Gibson isn’t too worried about this challenger.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain too close to call.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.