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New 4 A.M. Bar Bill Puts Lipstick on a Pig

Late night woman sad on the sidewalkShortly after the defeat of SB 386, Scott Wiener’s bill to roll back last call times, Sen Wiener declared he would reintroduce nearly the same bill in 2018. While he claims the new version would limit late last calls to “only” six cities in California, those six cities fall in the metropolitan core for over 30 million residents—over 75% of the population of the state.

Research, as well as common sense, shows this bill will cost money and lives. This was evident when the previous version of the bill was introduced last year. However, by reintroducing a failed bill immediately after the earlier version was rejected, Sen. Wiener spits in the face of established State Senate norms. The current version claims to be a "new" bill by virtue of limiting late last calls to six cities in the Bay Area, Sacramento, and Los Angeles, but the effect is the same: greater alcohol consumption, more dangerous driving, more late-night violence and property damage. Moreover, the effected areas are in the centers of the most populous parts of the state. Over 75% of the state is within driving distance of late-night areas.

Once again, CAPA and Alcohol Justice call upon the California legislature to do the right thing and kill this bill. It would uphold the standards of the State Senate, and protect the lives of tens of millions of Californians.

READ MORE about Sen. Wiener's cynical and dangerous bill.

WATCH the video about SB 905.

TAKE ACTION to stop SB 905, the revived 4 A.M. Bar Bill.


A Personal Message from Alcohol Justice's Bruce Livingston

Dear Friends,

I've got two teenage boys, and I'm fighting Big Alcohol to protect them and all youth from the annual US catastrophe of over 88,000 alcohol-related deaths, and $250 billion in alcohol-related harm.

Everybody knows somebody whose life had been interrupted or ended by an alcohol-related cause.

At Alcohol Justice we fight for the victims and the survivors and most of all for prevention, but we need your participation to protect our families and communities.

In 2017, Alcohol Justice celebrated 30 years of fighting Big Alcohol and reducing alcohol-related harm.

Truth be told, it's really hard work and we don't always win. 

But in 2017, we fought hard and won some major battles:

  • We led a successful campaign to STOP a dangerous policy change that would have allowed alcohol sales until 4 a.m. at California bars, restaurants, and clubs (unfortunately it will be re-introduced in 2018)
  • We successfully concluded a four-year long campaign to close the exploitative Whiteclay liquor stores that caused generations of harm to the Oglala Lakota Native Americans of Pine Ridge Reservation
  • We helped to pass a bill that for the first time requires Responsible Beverage Service training for alcohol servers throughout California

Today I invite you to become a member and join these efforts in 2018.

Become a member, and when you do, I promise to involve you in important battles that can help save the lives of those you love.

From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!

Bruce Lee Livingston
Executive Director/CEO                                                                                                                       Alcohol Justice


Sacramento Burns with Harassment Hearings While Wiener Fiddles with Late Night Bar Bill

Public health & safety grassroots advocates pledge to defeat new attempt to keep bars, restaurants and clubs open past 2 a.m.

Scott Wiener tilting at very drunk windmillsSAN FRANCISCO, CA (November 28, 2017) - California Alcohol Policy Alliance (CAPA), and Alcohol Justice are not surprised by Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) latest attempt to push the legislature in the direction of increasing profits for the late night industry at public expense. They are however puzzled by the timing of Wiener’s announcement on the day that the California state legislature began hearings on sexual harassment in the Capital.

“Senator Wiener is tone deaf to the important matters of the day,” stated Sara Cooley Broschart, Alcohol Justice Advocacy Manager. “As he talks about the importance of late night alcohol revenue, women in Sacramento are testifying about sexual misconduct by legislators at bars or fundraisers serving alcohol. The costs of this legislation to women, commuters, and neighbors far outweigh the benefits to a few bar owners. Senator Wiener needs to get his priorities straight.”

The unintended consequences of extending alcohol last call include:

  • quality of life deterioration for adjacent neighborhoods
  • drinkers driving from areas where bars close earlier to bars with later last calls
  • late night drinkers sharing the road with early morning commuters
  • increased DUI accidents and fatalities
  • limited budgets and personnel to deal effectively with the extra service calls

There is also vast peer-reviewed evidence that shows that two more hours of alcohol sales will nearly double alcohol-related violence, crime, police calls, emergency visits, etc.

"The Journal of the American Medical Association found that over 90% of domestic abusers were abusing alcohol not just regularly but at the time of the incident," stated Margot Bennett, Executive Director Women Against Gun Violence. "To protect families and communities at large, we must not only provide reasonable regulation of guns but also provide reasonable regulation of alcohol that includes restrictions on the hours it can be sold. A 4 a.m. last call is far from reasonable and will only push incidents of alcohol-related violence further into the early morning hours."

“The idea of bringing forward a bill to allow bars to serve alcohol until 4 a.m., especially in light of all the recent claims of sexual assault is unconscionable,” said Patty Hoyt, Alcohol Policy Coordinator at Discovery Counseling Center. “Serving alcohol until 4 a.m. will only increase the opportunities for unwanted advances and possible assaults as it will increase the amount of time people can consume and end up intoxicated.”

Wiener's failed first attempt this year (SB 384) was a dangerous piece of legislation that would have stripped away the standard protections of a normal 2 a.m. closing time. SB 384 drew the ire of local health, prevention, and recovery groups as well as MADD and law enforcement organizations that rallied at every opportunity to express strong opposition. They drew the attention and support of a steadily growing chorus of elected representatives, determined to call out the damage their constituents would suffer from an ostensible “local control” bill.

“The cost of authorizing the extension of hours for California’s 'nightlife industry' is not factored into their 6-billion-dollar economy: drunk driving, sexual assault or damage to personal property impact lives and public costs but not bar owners' balance sheets,” said Lisa Bridges, Co-Chair of CAPA—California Alcohol Policy Alliance. "Senator Wiener should know that CAPA, a diverse statewide coalition, is deeply committed to defeating any new attempt to keep bars, restaurants and clubs open past 2 a.m."

READ the press release.

READ MORE about Wiener's conference.

READ MORE about how last call times protect the public health.


Wyoming Leg Ponders Charge for Harm

With a bold plan to use alcohol taxes to fund recovery, the Cowboy State wears a white hat

 

Go get 'em, cowboy stateAs the federal government becomes obsessed with tax cuts—including ones specifically earmarked for Big Alcohol—the Wyoming state legislature is living up to the headstrong cowboy image.  The body’s Interim Joint Revenue Committee is exploring raising its alcohol excise taxes and state-collected alcohol fees, according to the Casper Star-Tribune. The Wyoming Legislative Service Office estimates the state would take in an additional $6.4 million, $1.4 million of which would be a Charge for Harm tax to fund alcohol recovery services.

 

The Charge for Harm element of the alcohol tax reform bill was proposed by Sen. Dave Kinskey (R-Sheridan). Sen. Kinskey had been researching ways to raise revenue in light of the state’s earnings shortfall due to declining fossil fuel revenue, and found that alcohol taxes had been proposed as far back as 1930 by the sitting Democratic Governor. Even today, generating revenue and paying for vital health enjoy bipartisan support in the state. The Star-Tribune reports the results of a recent poll in which 78% of Wyomingites supported raising alcohol taxes.

 

“Charge for Harm is such a simple concept—use the revenue from alcohol sales to reverse the harm of alcohol,” said Bruce Lee Livingston, CEO/Executive Director of Alcohol Justice. “But we still need decisive lawmakers like Sen. Kinskey to make it more than just a good idea.”

 

Although Wyoming could join the vanguard of states aggressively pursing Charge for Harm strategies, $1.4 million is from enough to address the full scope of alcohol-induced costs to the state. According to a study from the Wyoming Department of Health and the University of Wyoming, the state spent over $840 million in 2010 to address the harms from alcohol use.

 

READ MORE about Charge for Harm strategies.

 

READ MORE about how alcohol taxes can close state budget shortfalls.

 

USE the Alcohol Justice tax calculator to see how a few cents can make a huge difference for your state.