How to Let Sacramento Know You Oppose 4 A.M. Bar Closing Times
One of the worst side effects of bad policy isn't just the harm it inflicts on the community. It's the feeling of powerlessness to change things. This is not one of those times.
As SB 384, the bill that would recklessly extend bar closing times to 4 a.m., makes its way through the Senate, Alcohol Justice and the California Alcohol Policy Alliance teamed up to organize an All-State Call-In. Held Wednesday, March 22, the event brought together supporters and advocates for community health to call the California state senators who will be voting on this bill. Now, the organizations turn to the public and urge them to make their voices heard as well.
There are many arguments that need to be made. For starters, extending bar opening hours would increase hazardous driving, assaults and injuries, and place substantial stress on already taxed emergency services. Although proponents say it will increase tax revenue, not a penny is reserved to fund medics or police. Even if it were, the contribution would pale in comparison to the over $38 billion alcohol drains out of California's economy—a cost that will surely rise with the later closing times.
Indeed, it seems the real beneficiaries will be entertainment lobbies and Big Alcohol. Time and time again, we’ve seen corporate interests circumvent locally enforced regulations. In the past, it's been liquor license caps and moratoriums; alcohol sellers have found numerous loopholes or plead for special consideration to the point where those regulations are, in the words of Mission Local, "Potent as a weak drink." there’s no reason to believe that residents of the areas affected by late last calls will be any better able to push back against slick lobbies. Meanwhile, even localities that keep a 2 a.m. (or earlier) time will find more road hazards as drinkers commute to and from later-call locales.
It's time the arguments were heard by those responsible for safeguarding—or undermining—the state. On Tuesday, March 28th, the CA Senate Governmental Organization (GO) Committee will hold a hearing on SB 384. Now is the time to call in and let them know this bill is harmful, needless, and part of an upsetting trend of kowtowing to industry.
Below, find a list of Senate GO Committee members and their phone numbers. If you need inspiration, a short script is below. Go down the list and ask to speak to a policy staff person about SB 384. It will take 10 minutes to run down the list—but stopping this bill can protect a generation.
|Senate GO Committee Member phone numbers|
|Chairman Steven Glazer||(916) 651-4007|
|Tom Berryhill||(916) 651-4008|
|Steven Bradford||(916) 651-4035|
|Anthony Cannella||(916) 651-4012|
|Bill Dodd||(916) 651-4003|
|Ted Gaines||(916) 651-4001|
|Kathleen Gagliani||(916) 651-4005|
|Jerry Hill||(916) 651-4013|
|Ben Hueso||(916) 651-4040|
|Ricardo Lara||(916) 651-4033|
|Tony Mendoza||(916) 651-4032|
|Anthony Portantino||(916) 651-4025|
|Andy Vidak||(916) 651-4014|
Script to Oppose SB 384
"Hello, my name is [-----NAME-----]. I'm from [-----CITY OR TOWN------], and I urge the senator to oppose SB 384 as it reaches the Senate GO Committee next Tuesday. I oppose SB 384 because it threatens the wellbeing of my neighborhood. Extending alcohol sales hours to 4 a.m. will only benefit bar and restaurant owners, leaving taxpayers the bill for the increased public health and safety risk. This is a critical issue for our state. Thank you for your time."
Alcohol Justice and CAPA sincerely thank everyone who takes the time to be involved. California, for all its differences, is one state, and should stand as one for the health and safety of its citizens.
Most doctors will tell you it’s never too early to stop drinking. According to California State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), however, it’s never too late to keep drinking. Wiener has introduced a bill to the state senate allowing bars and nightclubs to continue serving alcohol until 4 a.m. Wiener claims the bill (SB 384) will promote tourism and generate additional income. However, existing research suggests the extra costs—in law enforcement, health and safety, and quality of life—will far outweigh any tax revenues.
Health research and common sense both suggest that later alcohol service is linked to greater alcohol-related violence, traffic incidents, and emergency room visits. This both costs money and strains emergency services, forcing both law enforcement and medical staffs to operate at higher capacities around the clock. Proponents of the bill contend the bill emphasizes “local control,” but residents of alcohol-outlet dense neighborhood will be disproportionately impacted while any revenue benefits flow up into state coffers or into the pockets of the nightlife industry. Moreover, none of those profits are earmarked for programs to counteract the harm caused by extended drinking. This gap is exacerbated by a law passed by voters in 2010 that makes it effectively impossible for local jurisdictions to generate those funds through charge-for-harm strategies—a bit of bitter irony that local control advocates conveniently ignore.
This is the second go-around for a late-night bar bill. A similar version of was introduced in 2013 by Mark Leno, and defeated thanks to the efforts of community groups and health advocates. “Nothing has changed since 2013,” said Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director / CEO of Alcohol Justice. “A bill to allow the sale of alcohol until 4 a.m. will create dangerous new public policy that threatens health and safety throughout California.”
California already bears a higher burden from alcohol-related harm than any other state, including 10,572 dates, 17,700 hospitalizations, and tens of billions of dollars of costs to government and the public. Moreover, researchers are only scratching the surface of the long-term health effects of alcohol. “We just don’t need additional hours of business for this substance,” Alcohol Justice Director of Public Affairs Michael Scippa told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s not like selling coffee and doughnuts. This is a substance which is a class one carcinogen.”
Extended bar hours have a proven potential to create lasting damage to individuals and communities, and offer few benefits to average Californians. Alcohol Justice and the California Alcohol Policy Alliance strongly oppose SB 384. Put this dangerous bill to bed.
READ MORE about Alcohol Justice and CAPA’s opposition.
LISTEN to Alcohol Justice Executive Director/CEO Bruce Lee Livingston present his opposition on KQED.
WATCH CAPA's video giving the truth on this unsafe, unhealthy bill.
TAKE ACTION to urge your elected representatives to stop SB 384.
Hearing Date Moved; Buying Out the Bad Guys
Street minister Bruce BonFleur doesn’t just forgive those who trespass against him. In a bold quest to undo the damage they cause, he hopes to hand them millions of dollars. BonFleur heads up Lakota Hope, a ministry that caters to those impacted by alcohol sales in Whiteclay, a 12-person Nebraska enclave that nonetheless moves over 3 million cans of beer per year from four liquor stores. These sales predominantly involve residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, a legally dry jurisdiction which nonetheless suffers from crippling rates of alcoholism and alcohol-related harms.
BonFleur told the Omaha World-Herald that he plans to raise $6.3 million to purchase the town’s four liquor stores. State legislators have recently asked the liquor stores to reapply for their licenses, giving the state time to review the law enforcement strain created by the tiny town’s massive alcohol trade. This has created uncertainty among the store owners, which in turn allows a rare opportunity for BonFleur and allies to buy out and close up the stores once and for all.
First, of course, he needs the money. He has launched the nonprofit Whiteclay Redevelopment L3C to raise funds and share the Whiteclay story.
As for the store licenses themselves, the state rescheduled the hearings from March 7th to April 6th. The rescheduling follows a challenge to the Sheridan County (wherein Whiteclay is located) commissioners’ recommendation that the liquor licenses be renewed. If BonFleur is unsuccessful, state liquor board intervention remains the last, best hope to end Whiteclay’s ongoing public health disaster.
TAKE ACTION to tell the Nebraska legislature to save lives and shut down the Whiteclay liquor stores.