Senator makes big changes to bill that would set new rules for who can enter bars
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - For as long as most of us can remember, it’s not uncommon to see people as young as 18 in a bar in Louisiana, because the law permits it.
SB194 by Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, originally looked to change that, but that’s not what was heard on Tuesday, May 9. Dozens of college students flooded the Senate halls to oppose the bill to raise the minimum age of entering a bar to 21.
But instead, they were shown something different.
Instead of barring 18 to 20-year-olds from entering, Sen. Mizell amended it to indicate the state will take the responsibility placed on the individual consuming the drink and place it on the ones who serve and the establishment they work for. It would also crack down on how folks get in.
“Somebody stands at the door with a flashlight; well, you can use your roommates,” explained Sen. Mizell. “You know, there’s so many ways that fake IDs have been allowed, and so now, the consensus is to use a scanner.”
The Godmother of Madison Brooks, the LSU student who lost her life after leaving a Tigerland bar intoxicated, spoke in support of the proposal. But also said she wished it had stayed in its original form.
“Our goal is to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again,” said Lauren Leblanc, Madison’s Godmother. “I believe it’s for Louisiana to join the rest of the country and prohibit anyone under 21 from entering a bar or serving alcohol, or at the very least please support the bill.”
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None of those who showed up to oppose the original bill actually ended up saying anything.
“I don’t know. I think the young people were here because they thought they still couldn’t go into bars. They hadn’t seen the amendment. But I think some of the opposition on the alcohol industry shifted from the testimony,” speculated Sen. Mizell.
But with so many young faces in the room at once, some on the panel took an opportunity to share some advice.
“A lot of this falls on us … and not just the folks up here but you all that are in this room, to take care of each other,” said Sen. Patrick McMath, R-Covington. “And I would just encourage you guys to do that when you find yourselves in certain positions and you see certain things. This world would be a lot better place if we were all responsible for not just ourselves but for each other. And so, please heed that if you can.”
The bill now heads to the floor for a larger debate.
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