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Accused of driving drunk, NE lawmaker still pushing beer bill

By   /   March 1, 2013  /   19 Comments

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.

Scott Lautenbaugh

BEER BILL: Scott Lautenbaugh

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 protected]

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Joe formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • Gayle V.

    Does Senator Danielle “Snowplow” Nantkes-Conrad still push roads defunding bills even though she uses them to commit her crimes?

  • chuck drew

    Scott L looks like he’s rather fond of a certain alcoholic bev. Just look at the Beer Belly on the dude!!

    Hey Scott, why not do something progressive for the state like push a Bill to Legalize MJ for recreational use! Remember, alcohol is poison while MJ is a healing & incredibly useful HERB!! Why one can even cook with it!

  • depechemoder

    UPDATE: Chuck, age 33, is still in his PJ’s, surfing online in his mom’s basement. Keep smoking and cooking with that MJ, Chuck.

  • Whatever bar served Senator Latuenback all that alcohol should use him in an advertisement. “Come drink here see the place that served a Conservative Republican 15 jack and cokes”.

  • ToucheTurtle

    Sure, the ONLY downside is that MJ kills brain cells. But I am sure that there are MANY cases where THAT won’t be a problem!!!! BTW, is there a difference between driving drunk and driving stoned?

  • Pat Boyle

    I’m already over this. I suggest everyone get there punches in while they can. I don’t agree with much of what Sen Lautenbaugh speaks up about, but he does have a tenacious personality that I respect and that will carry him through this. I don’t know if he’ll thrive but he will survive.

  • Biff Pocoroba

    The fact is that a firefighter, police officer, or an employee in any of dozens of other ‘respectable’ jobs would be looking for work today had they been pulled over and blown a test nearly three times the legal limit. This Good Senator will undergo ‘alcohol evaluation’ — whatever the heck that means! — pay a fine, and then continue on his merry way. So much for holding elected officials to higher standards, Nebraska.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Bold Nebraska has been mentioned nowhere in either the article or the comments, Gerard. Your paranoia’s showing again, time to readjust your tin foil helmet.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Sen Lautenbaugh is the LAST person who should be sponsoring this bill. Interesting to note that he is just another of a long list of losers that HeineyMan has appointed in his tenure. Phipps, Sheehy, Winterer, Lautenbaugh. . . .

    On the other hand, his point is valid, he just should not be the one pushing this particular bill at this time. I understand and happen to agree with what he’s after. This bill is designed to benefit brew pubs, establishments that brew their own beer on site like Lazlo’s or Crane River here in Lincoln. This law would allow a patron to purchase what is known as a growler – a 1/2 to 2 gallon refillable mini-keg – to fill and take home to put in the fridge. They are seal-able and use a mini tap to dispense the beer from. You purchase the growler then have it filled so you can take home the beer, which stays good for about a week in the growler in your fridge. I would love to be able to take home some of Lazlo’s on-tap Stout beer or some of Spilker Ale’s Hoppaluia double hopped ale on-tap and be able to keep it fresh for a few days to enjoy.

    Great idea, Scott, piss poor timing and presenter.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    I wouldn’t call her bill “roads defunding”, but I WOULD call Deb Fischer’s bill “Stealing from our children’s education to repay political favors by building roads to nowhere in the empty Sandhills” that should be rightfully repealed. There is a better way to fund roads than to steal money from the general fund that was to go to education.

  • shameless_1

    Sorry ToucheTurtle, Alcohol also destroys Brain Cells and much much more, can you say alcohol induced hepatitis, liver disease, alcohol poisoning and the list goes on.
    I would recommend that you put away your Rockefeller funded copy of Reefer Madness and do just a pinch of actual research on the issue of Cannabis/Hemp and find out why it’s actually illegal in this Country where as before the 1950s it was used in hundreds of different applications for the production of clothes, rope, hell I can’t even begin to list the uses.
    I’ll give ya a little background to point you in the right direction though. In the 50s the Rockefeller’s begin buying up large tracts of timber land and were investing in Pulp Production facilities and paper plants. Now, at the time Hemp was also used for it’s Pulp to produce paper and other goods, the problem was that Pulp from Hemp was 10 times stronger than that from trees, it took much less water to grow and did not require the chemicals [can you say Dow Chemical] for fertilization and pest control. You could also grow 3 times the amount of Hemp in a 1/3 of the area required to grow trees! Now imagine this, Hemp can be used to produce plastic bags that are 10 times stronger than those produced with petroleum and it’s bio degradable. Would you care to make a guess at the number of plastic bags that Wal-Mart alone hands out every single day? Those bags are also bio degradable if you care to wait 10,000 years! Hemp can be used to replace almost all of the products that are now made from petroleum and is stronger and bio degradable. What would your guess be as to how that would affect gas prices at the pump since there would be a massive amount of crude saved by switching to Hemp? On top of this there would be much less need for pesticides and fertilizer needed for growing Corn, soy, Switch Grass for the use in the production of Ethanol as Hemp can be easily used for the same purpose. Bottom line my friend, if you legalize Hemp for commercial use alone you are stripping billions if not Trillions from the Oil Industry, Chemical Industry and the farmers that are making a fortune on selling corn and soy and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
    Now we can talk about the medicinal use of Marijuana which btw is not the same as Hemp. while there is a small amount of tetrahydrocannabinol THC in Hemp it’s not enough to get you high without smoking about a pound of the nasty crap and then ya end up with a headache and nausea. As anyone that has ever been the victim of Cancer and has undergone Chemo and radiation tx. can tell you, you can buy legal marijuana, I’m not talking about the kind you go to Colorado and buy from a dispensary but rather a drug that is prescribed by your physician called “Marinol” manufactured by Unimed. it contains about 10mg of Dronabinol and cost around 5K for a three month prescription. Who do ya think is gettin very wealthy off that little jewel?
    The problem is Sir is that since Marijuana is a natural growing plant and is and is available in any farm ditch the Gov. has yet to figure out a way to Tax it. On top of that, with the growing desire of States to privatize prisons, which require that their beds remain at full capacity in order to insure their stockholders receive a good return on their investment and the Fact that the Gov. usually the State or County can confiscate homes, cars, cash, or any other thing of value simply on the suspicion that it is a product of illicit drug transactions there is damned good reason to keep the so called “War on Drugs” alive and well.
    I promise you if you do the research with an open mind you wil find that what I have stated here is not a conspiracy theory but FACT.

  • jason3

    HEY! In Nebr…DUI’S and other foulings of the law don’t count if your a republican….Heineman used his office to campaign…against the law?…He said let the account. Commission sort it out….Phipps another law violator??? ….As one editorial in the Journal memtioned some time ago…If Jesus was a democrat and the devil was a republican…Nebr would elect the devil

  • resistwemuch

    Billl J. Your cited example of police and firemen who would lose their jobs, etc. is way off base. Have you ever heard of the term “professional courtesy?” If not you should know police will not cite other police or firemen. They get a pass or a ride home. I know this from years of experience. The one exception is if they get stopped by NSP. NSP does not honor “professional courtesy” and they do what they are expected to do and that is to enforce the laws without bias or consideration of the detainees professional stature.

  • I’ll bet he is not only a customer of those that will (profit more) from this change, I’ll bet he is best friends with many of the distributers. At least until his liver and/or kidneys give out.

  • Not Surprised

    Another example of privileged politicians taking example of their “status”. Nebraska has a law that says members of the Unicameral cannot even be prosecuted for breaking the law during a session. Hey Scott, you should have robbed a bank too.
    You blew over a .02 and wont say where you were drinking. Had to be a bar, after hours, or someplace your wife wouldn’t want to know about..Resign Chump.

  • Jazzee

    You really think that cops and firemen have all been fired for drinking while driving or being over the limit? If you do you know nothing about the real world

  • Jazzee

    What I don’t get is why just ‘certain bars’ kind of like that cigar store people can smoke but nowhere else? what is it with special favors for some and the heck with the others

  • I am just a mom

    This guy is a joke. When will someone do something about the privileged who break the law and receive “special treatment”. If an employee at Omaha Public Schools or a Judge at the Douglas County courthouse had alcohol in their office would that be OK? If a Judge or a teacher was pulled over for driving drunk would we all just rationalize and make excuses? I thought Mr. Lautenbaugh was the posterboy for personal responsibility and fine upstanding Republican values? Does that include driving drunk, putting others in harms way, and drinking while yukking it up with lobbyists at the State Capital? Why maybe some of these same lobbyists (for beer distributors, for example) brought Mr. Lautenbaugh some of their goods to sample in a private party in his office. Is driving drunk illegal? Do lawyers need to follow the laws? Or just when convenient for them? What about the Rick Sheehy? Just another gubernatorial appointee who thinks he’s special and the rules just dont apply?

  • JoeSixPack56

    Why hasn’t Governor Heineman asked him to step down?
    Is there alcohol in the Governor’s refrigerator too?