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Reckless Late Night Bar Bill Fails Again

In a resounding victory for prevention, SB 58, the 3 a.m. (nee 4 a.m.) bar bill was decisively voted down by the California State Assembly. The vote puts punctuation on a tumultuous fight by local health and safety advocates against a powerful state coalition of big nightlife concerns, centered around State Senator Scott Wiener. SB 58 marked the third time one of Sen. Wiener's bills extending last call failed. In 2017, the bill was turned into a study on the feasibility of extended bar hours, then pulled by its author. In 2018, a modified version of the bill was vetoed by then Governor Jerry Brown. This year, the bill was rejected on the Assembly floor. It remains to be seen if Sen. Wiener will bring it back in 2020.

"It was a powerful sign that this bill failed a simple Assembly vote," said Michael Scippa, Public Affairs Director of Alcohol Justice. "This wasn't just the action of one powerful politician. It was legislators speaking up for their constituents en masse."

The failure for SB 58 was helped along by a resolution from the Los Angeles City Council rejecting late last call times. This extraordinary gesture occurred flew in the face of the text of the bill, which specifically targeted Los Angeles for extended hours, and Mayor Eric Garcetti, who supported the bill. Shortly after the resolution passed, the bill was modified to shorten the extended hours from 4 a.m. to 3 a.m. But in light of the local opposition, even that proved insufficient to save the bill. 

Mayra Jiménez, Advocacy Manager for Alcohol Justice, credited community groups, including members of the California Alcohol Policy Alliance, for spurring the City Council on. "The place was packed with advocates and allies," she said. "There were so many passionate people there to make their voices heard, and the councilmembers listened."

Concerns around extended last call times included greater risks of DUI, violence, crime, and injury. In July, the Berkeley-based Alcohol Research Group released a study examining the real costs of late-night alcohol service in Los Angeles. Its most conservative estimate showed over $50 million in annual costs from additional service. Over 5 years, the estimated net costs ranged from $266 million to over $1 billion.

Sen. Wiener has not yet expressed an intention to bring the bill back yet again in the coming legislative year. Despite the irregularities around reintroducing failed bills, he has brought his bar bill back on back-to-back-to-back years. If it comes to a fourth fight, however, the research, advocacy, and prevention community has no intention of going home early.

WATCH the video of the decisive vote--did your representative stand against alcohol harm?

READ MORE about the harms that come with extended bar hours.

READ MORE about the costs to Los Angeles from late last calls.

READ MORE about the ongoing fight for late night.

4 A.M. Bar Bill Keeps Moving Forward As New Report Finds Up to $1 Billion In Costs from Late Last Calls

A woman experience the delights of late last callsDespite passionate opposition and alarming new research, SB 58 (aka the 4 A.M. Bar Bill) continues to make its way through the California legislature, passing the California State Assembly Committee on Governmental Operations (GO) by a narrow vote. The bill seeks to set up an ersatz “pilot program” that would allow 10 cities across California to establish 4 a.m. last call times for bars and nightclubs. Two previous versions of SB 58 stalled out in previous years. Hopes that this year’s Assembly GO would follow their lead have so far proven fruitless.

Assembly GO Committee member Tom Lackey, a former California Highway Patrol Officer, spoke passionately about the concerns law enforcement has with extending last calls. “I have direct knowledge of the tragedy that’s associated when alcohol-impaired driving is coupled with the extreme fatigue that we also see in drivers between 2 and 4 a.m,” Assemblymember Lackey said. “Through this legislation we will extend the hours of most danger and that is terrible, reprehensible, abhorrent, scary, and should be denounced.”

Assemblymember Lackey’s fears were reinforced by a new analysis conducted by the Oakland-based Alcohol Research Group (ARG), and released the day before the vote. The report looked at the potential impact on Los Angeles from extended last call times and found staggering costs associated with the bill. Assuming only 5% of the eligible establishments in Los Angeles opt to stay open to 4 a.m., the projected costs from the additional alcohol sales top $266 million over 5 years. If 20% of the eligible bars opt in, the costs go over $1 billion.

Those are only the estimated costs per drink. The actual harms—what Governor Jerry Brown termed the “mischief and mayhem” when he vetoed a nearly identical bill last year—skyrocket as well. The ARG team found that a 4 a.m. last call, if universally adopted in the city, would result in 18,934 more violent crimes, 2,741 alcohol-related arrests, 3,237 DUIs, 809 motor vehicle crashes, and an astonishing 94,147 ambulance calls.

These figures, staggering as they are, were not enough to sway the committee, which passed the bill by one vote. “SB 58 is nothing more than another greedy grab for more profits by promoting binge drinking in the wee hours of the morning,” said Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director/CEO of Alcohol Justice. “Alcohol Justice applauds those committee members who voted ‘no,’ and those who stayed off the bill. We urge the rest of the Assembly to do what the GO committee failed at and stop this dangerous experiment.”

The bill moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee next. Alcohol Justice urges all concerned allies to take action at the link below and tell Appropriations to stop this reckless bill before the harm is on our doorstep.

TAKE ACTION to tell your legislators to stop this bill.

READ MORE about the expected costs of the 4 A.M. Bar Bill.

READ MORE about how the Assembly GO Committee let down California.

GUEST VOICES: Time for Opioid Makers to Pay Their Share

by Ramon Castellblanch, Ph.D., President, Quality Healthcare Concepts, Inc.

oxycontinWith AB 1468 (McCarty), opioid manufacturers and distributors will begin to pay California to help stop the deaths and misery caused by the opioid epidemic, off of which these businesses have so highly profited. For two decades, opioid manufacturers and distributors have irresponsibly promoted opioids. Opioid-makers like the Sackler family-owned Purdue Pharma have pleaded guilty to misleading regulators, doctors and patients about their opioid Oxycontin’s risk of addiction and its potential to be abused. Opioid distributors like Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen have settled lawsuits that they were shipping opioids to “pill mill” pharmacies that dispense excessive numbers of painkillers.

Read more ...