"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 political tilt of the Senate during President Barack Obama's final two years in office is likely to hinge on a handful of female contenders in tight and costly races.
A former BP executive will be allowed to travel to the United Kingdom later this month while he awaits trial on charges relating to an investigation of the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
South Koreans defend ramen; special forces had failed to find James Foley; Vegas lures LGBT tourists and more national and international news for Thursday, August 21, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
Friends and family will celebrate Spider's life in September.
Saints safety Jairus Byrd has rarely been so eager to hit and be hit, if only to reassure himself that his surgically repaired back is as healed as doctors believe.
Jindal privatized nearly all the LSU hospitals without waiting for federal officials to sign off on financing arrangements that rely on millions of federal Medicaid dollars.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her main Republican challenger, Congressman Bill Cassidy, verbally sparred as they officially signed up on the opening day of qualifying for Louisiana's November election.
Superintendent tells crowd he'd just emerged from a four-hour meeting with the attorney hired to investigate him.
The start of the three-day qualifying period for November’s elections has so far yielded 10 official bids and one new announcement from candidates seeking a seat on the school board.
It’s been just over four months since attorney Barry Domingue committed suicide the morning before he was to stand trial for a second day in the federal Curious Goods case, leaving his fellow attorney/co-defendant Daniel Stanford with a temporary mistrial and awaiting his day in court.
Candidates for Louisiana's Nov. 4 election must officially sign up for the ballot this week.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's effort to derail Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards was halted Tuesday by a state judge who said the governor's actions were harmful to parents, teachers and students.
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram isn't letting a humbling start to his pro career lower his opinion of what he can still accomplish in the NFL.
Visualize Lafayette’s next great thing from 3,000 feet.
A Baton Rouge judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday against enforcing a law that prohibits anyone 70 or older from running for justice of the peace or constable.
Gov. Bobby Jindal believes the last-minute passage of a pension hike for his state police superintendent, Col. Mike Edmonson, was improperly handled, according to the governor's office.
As the courts hash out the attempts to preserve and shelve Common Core in Louisiana, a group of six state lawmakers are planning an Aug. 22 trip to Oklahoma to meet with their counterparts and strategize for the 2015 regular session.
While hopes are high for turnout this fall, a new report from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate suggests that Louisiana's midterm face-offs may amount to nothing special in terms of votes cast.
The attorney hired by the Lafayette Parish School Board for a special investigation of Superintendent Pat Cooper has submitted his final report, though it may be another week before the findings are made public.
The Tea Party of Louisiana is calling Sen. David Vitter a “turncoat” for his newfound embrace of Common Core educational standards.
An annual report evaluating Gov. Bobby Jindal's privatization of Medicaid lacked important financial information and presented rosy performance reviews not corroborated by data, according to a review released Monday.
Lafayette attorney Michelle Meaux-Breaux has announced her plans to seek the Division E seat for judge in the 15th Judicial District.
A card-carrying member of Lafayette’s “tribe,” Milton “Spider” Guidry died over the weekend. IND music writer Nick Pittman remembers the character and the man.
As tensions continue to escalate in Ferguson, Mo., between law enforcement and residents protesting the shooting death of a local teen by police, we’re reminded of the peculiar circumstances surrounding the in-custody death earlier this year of a New Iberia man.