"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 Parish School Board's mishandling of its insurance selection process over the last two years has caught the attention of the FBI.
Kids under 18 will have to pursue skin cancer the old-fashioned way.
Lafayette Parish School Board member Kermit Bouillion says he will defend his District 5 seat in the upcoming election.
The Louisiana chapter of Americans for Prosperity sent the pledge request to all 144 lawmakers in February.
The 5-foot-10, 203-pound former second-round pick has gone to three Pro Bowls in his five seasons.
The state argues that if they identify how they're getting the drugs, they could have trouble buying more because companies don't want to be known as helping in an execution.
The enrollment period ends this month.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, March 12, 2014:
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.