Rep. Cedric Glover, D-Shreveport, argued that allowing universities to contract with brewers for a signature beer opened the door to all sorts of questionable products.

Advocate Photo by Mark Ballard

Recognizing that he faced overwhelming opposition for his bill to ban universities from branding beer, Rep. Cedric Glover withdrew the measure before the Louisiana House Education committee could vote Thursday.

Glover surrounded himself with signs displaying possible products, such as “Big Mike’s Purple & Wild Cigars,” to underscore his point that public universities contracting with Louisiana's nascent micro-brewing industry to make and sell an official beer opens the door to far more lucrative contracts with the international beer companies and to other, more questionable, products.

“If what we got is okay, why not allow some of these other products?” the former Democratic mayor of Shreveport said.

Ragin’ Cajuns Genuine Louisiana Ale is the official beer for UL-Lafayette and Bayou Bengal Lager supports LSU.

“Bayou Bengal opens the door to ‘Big Mike’s Malt Liquor’,” Glover said, picking up one of his signs with a cartoon of Mike the Tiger. “And if the malt liquor is okay, then if you know about the smooth enjoyment of a black and mild (cigar), why not set your evening off with a ‘Big Mike’s Purple and Wild?’”

Glover argued that state appropriations to public higher education has been cut about $750 million over the past nine years, leaving colleges and universities seeking money in novel ways, such as contracting with brewers who want to sell “official” beers.

“I am, in no way, against what these university leaders are trying to do in solving what is an obvious problem for them. I actually want to commend them for their willingness to think outside the box,” Glover said, adding that legislators should fully fund higher education.

But, contracting with brewers is an action that tells students “that these are the types of things that not only do we partner with, we profit from, and I guess to a certain sense, believe that it is okay for you as an 18, 19, 20-year-old-student to engage in. I don't think that is a good thing to do.”

House Bill 610 would ban public universities from licensing "official" alcoholic beverages. His measure also would forbid LSU and UL-Lafayette from renewing the contracts with local brewers when they expire.

“It would devastating to our business if we could not continue to make this brand,” said Stephanie Knott, of Bayou Teche Brewery, which makes the Ragin’ Cajun ale. The small Arnaudville brewery bought additional equipment and has worked two years on developing and marketing the official beer of ULL.

“This brand is very popular,” she said.

State Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, said the state should not be in the business of limiting contracts for activities that are legal and can provide funds for institutions that need the money.

Glover replied that he regretted not making a sign “for an official LSU Asian Massage parlor, since that is a legal enterprise. We’ll save that one for the floor,” Glover said.

“That’s a fair point. You may have just changed by vote, just to see that sign on the floor,” Broadwater said as laughter filled the hearing room.

“You have the best visual aids in our committee since I have been here,” said House Education Committee Chairman Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette. “It was very entertaining and I appreciate you starting the conversation.”

Committee members applauded in appreciation of his presentation after Glover withdrew HB610 from consideration.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.