BATON ROUGE, La. — Fans of Bayou Bengal Lager and Ragin’ Cajuns Genuine Louisiana Ale can pop open another cold one. Louisiana lawmakers won’t be meddling with the university-affiliated beers.
Shreveport Rep. Cedric Glover has shelved his bid to prohibit Louisiana’s colleges and universities from authorizing an official alcoholic beverage affiliated with the school’s brand.
Glover presented the bill to the House Education Committee on Thursday, but then pulled it before a vote. The proposal faced significant opposition, and he said he was glad simply to have started the conversation.
University leaders said they’ve embarked on the branding deals to help fill budget gaps as lawmakers have stripped hundreds of millions of dollars in state financing from their campuses. LSU’s officially licensed beer is Tin Roof Brewing Company’s Bayou Bengal Lager. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has a partnership with Bayou Teche Brewing for Ragin’ Cajuns Genuine Louisiana Ale.
Glover, a Democrat, said he understands the difficult budget circumstances, but worries about using a university brand to promote alcohol amid national concerns about binge drinking and alcohol abuse among students. He sat next to placards he created, imagining the image of LSU’s tiger mascot Mike used to market liquor or cigars.
“Bayou Bengal opens the door to Big Mike’s Malt Liquor,” Glover said.
Rep. Chris Broadwater, a Hammond Republican, outlined some of the arguments from opponents: He said it could impair existing contracts, violating the Louisiana Constitution, and he said it could “do harm to the youth of our state” by not giving schools every opportunity to generate money to offer them strong educational options.
Broadwater also said he couldn’t “get past the irony” that lawmakers recently authorized LSU and Southern University to grow medical marijuana, a plant tied to criminal penalties — but were being asked to consider “to prohibit them from profiting off of something that is legal.”
No one from the universities spoke at Thursday’s hearing before the bill was scrapped.
House Bill 610: www.legis.la.gov