Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog
Updated 2:15 p.m. Friday
Less than a week after his arrest on charges of drunken driving, state Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh will be pushing a beer bill through the Legislature.
The bill, LB 456, would allow certain bars to sell “one or more containers of draft beer for consumption off the premises.”
In an interview with Nebraska Watchdog, Lautenbaugh said the bill “has nothing to do” with his DUI arrest and he intends to stand behind the legislation.
The bill, which allows for containers up to two gallons, specifies that the containers must be “securely” sealed.
Early Wednesday morning Lautenbaugh, a Republican, was pulled over near 147th and West Maple Road in Omaha.
According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s office, he was driving erratically with a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit.
Lautenbaugh apologized but has shed little light on the incident.
Nebraska Watchdog: Were you in a bar the other night?
Scott Lautenbaugh: I’m not even going to go into that. There are people trying to go after the dram-shop law and all that Joe, and I just don’t want to talk about it.”
Lautenbaugh’s dram-shop comment apparently refers to those who want to crackdown on bar owners linked to drunken driving accidents.
In late 2009 the Associated Press asked Nebraska state senators whether bar owners should be held legally responsible if people who got drunk at their establishments are killed or injure others.
Lautenbaugh and 12 other senators said no.
Nebraska is one of only seven states without a dram-shop law, according to the MADD-Mothers Against Drunk Drivers website.
A hearing on Lautenbaugh’s beer bill is set for Monday afternoon in Lincoln.
Alex Wunrow, a college student who worked as a page for the Legislature last year, told Nebraska Watchdog Lautenbaugh once asked him to fetch him some ice from the fridge in his office at the capitol, and Wunrow saw a bottle of Captain Morgan and open case of beer.
While there are no rules that prohibit alcohol in the legislative offices, Wunrow said that was the only time he saw alcohol in an office.
After his arrest, Lautenbaugh said he was embarrassed and takes full responsibility.
“I will seek an immediate alcohol evaluation, and I will follow whatever recommendation or path that it mandates,” said Lautenbaugh, who was appointed to the Legislature in 2007 by Gov. Dave Heineman.
Contact Joe Jordan at email@example.com
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