Card ’em bill moves to Senate floor

BATON ROUGE – A proposed piece of legislation aimed at battling underage drinking in Louisiana passed through the Committee on Judiciary B to the Senate floor Tuesday.

Louisiana Sen. Beth Mizell introduced the CARD ‘EM Act (Create Alcohol Responsibility & Deterrence). The bill was proposed in honor of Madison Brooks.

Mizell’s bill was originally aimed at prohibiting anyone under the age of 21 from entering any bars that serve alcohol. However, she introduced several amendments Tuesday that were met with support.

The original bill stated that no one under age 21 would be allowed inside the bar but Mizell’s amended bill lowers the age back to 18.

In the original bill, musicians who are under 21 but perform at establishments or bar employees under 21 would not be allowed to do their jobs. The amended bill allows musicians to play and employees to continue working at the bars.

Another amendment increases the fines for establishments that are caught selling alcohol to underage people.

“If we can agree that an 18-year-old is the least responsible party in the transaction, but currently bears the full responsibility for being served illegally in Louisiana right now,” Mizell said. “That’s what this is addressing. Right now in a transaction where an 18-year-old is illegally served or overserved and hurts himself or herself or hurts someone else, he’s the most responsible party because we have nothing in law to protect it from the other way. The bar is licensed by the state of Louisiana and with that comes an expectation of following the laws of the state. In other states, bars have responsibility for their actions.”

Brooks, a 19-year-old LSU sophomore, died after being hit by a vehicle on Burbank Drive on Jan. 15.

Four individuals were arrested and charged in connection with her death. Kaivon Washington, 18, was charged with third-degree rape. Casen Carver, 18, and A 17-year-old were each charged with first-degree rape and third-degree rape. Everett Lee, 27, was charged with principle to third-degree rape.

According to the arrest warrant, Brooks had a blood alcohol concentration of .319, which is considered alcohol poisoning.

Brooks and the suspects in her case had all been served alcohol at Reggie’s in Tigerland before her death. The bar had its state alcohol permit suspended on Jan. 24 following Brooks’ death.

Brooks’ godmother and aunt spoke at the senate hearing to share her niece’s story and to support Mizell’s bill.

“My niece Madison was the most bubbly and loving soul,” Lauren LeBlanc said. “She was kind, bright, faithful, and passionate. She valued her family and her friends above all else. Madi hoped to one day become an attorney or a news reporter. She was passionate about helping others find justice and being a LOUD (sometimes quite loud) voice.”

“Madi was served drinks at the bar, by her friends and acquaintances who worked there, FAR TOO MANY DRINKS,” she added. “Her judgment was severely impaired and she left the bar with four strangers, who offered her a “ride home.” However, Madison NEVER made it home.”

In February, Reggie’s opted to remain closed after postponing an emergency hearing with the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tabacco Control regarding their liquor license.

In April, Reggie’s had its liquor license revoked permanently.

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