BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - UPDATE
Senator LaFleur withdrew his bill Tuesday, April 3 after citing concern that the move could cost the state millions of dollars in federal aid.
In a state known for letting the good times roll, one bill at the capitol could make the good times legally available to those a little younger.
A bill by Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, gives those just under the legal drinking age, 19 and 20-year-olds, the ability to buy and consume alcohol without being under parental supervision.
In order to do so, those individuals would need to get their parent's approval to take a class about the risks associated with alcohol. They would then receive a special certificate.
LaFleur says parents already can buy drinks for their underage kids. His bill, he says, would be an extension of that practice for when parents are not around, with the added bonus of special training.
"We just ignore the fact that that population, age group is actually in restaurants, in bars and drinking," LaFleur said.
However, some groups, including Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), believe this bill is simply condoning bad behavior. "It's completely bogus," said Grace Stevens, a senior at Denham Springs High School and a member of the student leadership council for SADD in Livingston Parish.
Stevens says teens like herself would not take the classes seriously and could get hurt if they drink and drive. "The research and statistics show that your brain is really undeveloped until its well into its 20s, so when you're lowering that drinking age, you're ruining your brain," she said.
Meanwhile, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) released a statement condemning the bill, saying it "would result in more drunk driving deaths in Louisiana."
LaFleur argues earning the certificate does not entitle someone to a free pass. Those individuals would face stiffer penalties for things like DWIs. "To get the privilege, you undertake greater risk," he said.
LaFleur says if his bill does become law, the drinking age in Louisiana will remain 21-years-old. The bill will get its first hearing at the state capitol Tuesday in Senate committee.