Legislative Report

Brew U. prevails at Capitol

by Matt Houston, Manship School News Service

Rep. Cedric Glover, D-Shreveport and his mock ads depicting LSU’s Mike the Tiger engaging in activities many consider vices
Photo by Sarah Gamard

Shreveport Rep. Cedric Glover voluntarily withdrew his bill Thursday that would have prevented state colleges or universities from affixing their names or logos to an alcoholic beverage after having some fun in front of the House Education Committee.

The House Bill 610 would have prevented LSU and UL Lafayette from extending their licensing agreements with local brewing companies after their current contracts expire. It didn’t take long befor the committee was signaling Glover’s bill wasn’t going anywhere and he hauled down the flag “to avoid the slaughter.”

But not before a spirited pitch for the ban.

“Right now, we’re saying it’s okay for an 18-, 19-, 20- year old students to engage in [underage drinking],” Glover said.

The Bayou Bengal lager is one of five core beers by Tin Roof Brewery of Baton Rouge, founded by LSU alumni in 2010. The university receives 15 percent of the earnings associated with the beer.

Glover, a Demcrat, has made the argument that the ongoing budget cuts experienced by state universities are not a valid excuse to seek out replacement revenues from beer.

“Bayou Bengal opens the door to ‘Big Mike’s Malt Liquor,’” warned Glover, hoisting three signs before committee members that depict LSU mascot Mike the Tiger engaging in different activities which some consider vices.

“That may cater to a different demographic, but if you can have one, I don’t understand why can’t there be another. Then, if you know about the smooth, cool enjoyment of a Black & Mild, why not really set your evening off with a little bit of the ‘Purple and Wild?’”

Glover, who has acknowledged that he is not a teetotaler, told the committee he didn’t want to provide it with a list of prohibited items that potentially could use a university logo, although he said he could include such things like “tobacco products, lottery tickets, and rolling papers,” if asked to do so.

Glover’s inclusion of rolling papers, often used to smoke marijuana, sparked discussion between Glover and Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, over LSU’s ability to license its growth of medical marijuana.

“That has a medicinal purpose and has no intoxicating impact or effect,” Glover said. “It’s medical research. That’s not the case with Bayou Bengal or the Ragin’ Cajun beverage. Those are intended to be intoxicating. If you drink more than two or three, you’ll get a buzz. Drink a 6-pack, and you’re drunk. Drink a 12-pack, you get sick.”

Broadwater also made reference to the Louisiana Lottery, which generates revenue for public education, although it’s not officially licensed with any schools. He said he believes any public or private institution has the right to enter into contracts that license their brand or likeness for lawful activity.

“If there are things allowed in our state that are currently lawful but damaging to citizens in our state, then let’s have that discussion,” Broadwater said. “This is just a symptom.”

Several representatives from the brewing industry spoke in opposition to the bill, saying they don’t encourage underage drinking and the motion would hurt their businesses.

The House Committee on Education applauded Glover after he deferred the bill, with chairwoman Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, thanking him for “making the committee’s day” with his presentation.