"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
As part of a national undertaking known by industry insiders as the “Butterfly Project,” a rebranded version of The Daily Advertiser is set to launch with Sunday’s edition of the Gannett-owned paper.
Louisiana moved up a slot to 48th in the ranking of healthy states — once again, thank God for Mississippi! — so all this frettin’ about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s refusal to expand Medicaid per Obamacare ... fuggidaboutit! We don’t need Medicaid no more!
The Denham Springs woman who placed Christmas lights in the shape of a butter finger on her roof in a display of anger directed at neighbors has doubled the trouble for the 2013 holiday season.
The 30-second commercial, to run around the state, is the Democratic senator's first TV spot in her bid for re-election to a fourth term.
It's a number that has edged up but falls far short of the thousands who are eligible for subsidized coverage.
A group of mostly higher education leaders will make recommendations to state lawmakers about how to tweak the policies governing tuition rates charged at the state's public colleges.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, December 11, 2013
That would be Congressman John Fleming talking about Sen. David Vitter.
The alleged mastermind behind the bribery scheme that went on for four years under DA Mike Harson’s nose isn’t just schizophrenic, bipolar and recovering from mini strokes; he now says he has cancer.
Louisiana's higher education leaders are trying to work out a financing deal to keep the state's public colleges from running low on state cash to operate their campuses.
With their latest triumph, the Saints left little doubt about how tough they are to beat in the Superdome. Unfortunately, two of their remaining three games are on the road.
For the first time in at least five years, retired teachers, state workers and school system employees could see an increase in their pension checks.
Lawmakers and Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration shared a collective sigh of relief with the news that Louisiana's tax amnesty program brought in the $200 million that they used to help balance this year's budget.
Drew Brees often makes the extraordinary look routine, particularly during night games in the Superdome.
The teams were extended invitations Sunday for the New Year's Day matchup played at Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
If all 44 projects are approved, about $300 million would remain in the fund set up as a down payment to help the Gulf.
Last week, the Saints gave up 429 yards to Seattle, second most in a game this season.
Since Anthony Jennings and Brooks Haack were not expected to contribute until next year at the earliest, it seemed like a sneak peek at hidden Christmas gifts.
Louisiana National Guard personnel seeking benefits for same-sex spouses will have an easier time filing the requests, despite a state refusal to let its workers process the paperwork.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera sees one potential flaw with his team's stellar defensive play so far this season. "Apparently we like to bite on the double moves," Rivera said.
Computer hackers may have gained access to the personal information of thousands of Louisiana residents who use debit cards issued by JPMorgan Chase for three state agencies, authorities said Wednesday.
Jim Purcell, who has been in the job since February 2011, notified the Board of Regents about his decision at its monthly meeting.
Hushed plans for a commercial development along the Louisiana Avenue portion of the Holy Rosary campus put the future of longtime tenant EarthShare Gardens in jeopardy.
If a recent advertisement in The Daily Advertiser is any indication, speculation the local daily will be implementing the “Butterfly Project” could be more of a reality than the Gannett-owned paper’s top execs are willing to admit.
Mettenberger injured his left knee while unloading a 32-yard completion in the fourth quarter of No. 14 LSU's 31-27 victory over Arkansas last Friday, and LSU coach Les Miles confirmed the severity of the injury on Wednesday.