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CA Alcohol Legislation to Watch in 2019

ca state capitalLowlights include cutting alcohol taxes, continuing the campaign to strip protective last calls

As California lawmakers go into a new legislative year, they bring with them some classically bad ideas. From lifting restrictions on alcohol sales to lowering taxes on youth-friendly beverages, the slate of bills is peppered with red flags. One promising bill, however, takes a novel approach to reducing driving under the influence (DUI).

AB 205, the “All Beer, All the Time” Bill: In a short-sighted giveaway to megabrewers, this bill would add new beverages to the beer category. Specifically, it eliminates the requirement that a beer be made of barley, malt, and hops, including alcoholic beverages made from fermented fruit, honey, and natural sugars. This distinction affect more than just the technical definition of beer. Beer enjoys lower tax rates and can be sold in more kinds of stores than other alcoholic beverages (specifically, wine and liquor). Already, Big Alcohol finds loopholes to get alcopops and similar fruit-flavored drinks fortified with distillled spirits sold as “beer”. This bill just makes it easier to inundate the state with this kind of kid-friendly, easy-to-drink faux Schlitz.

AB 475, the “Drunk Artist” Bill: Every year, the legislature tries to carve out a new, special venue where alcohol can be distributed. This year, “paint and sip” classes are the benefactor. This kind of “class” involves getting tipsy while learning or practicing painting. Already, venues licensed to serve alcohol offer this kind of recreation. AB 475 would create a new carveout so that anyone offering that kind of class could get a liquor license. Aside from increasing overconsumption and alcohol outlet overconcentration, it continues the Dry Bar Bill’s precedent wherein any economic activity can be used as an excuse for alcohol service. Ultimately, real lessons do not require drunk students.

SB 55, the “Guns and DUI” Bill: This innovative bill would revoke a gun owner’s permit for 10 years if they violate certain laws involving alcohol intoxication, including DUI. On a simple level, this provides a new enforcement mechanism to dissuade drivers from getting behind the wheel after drinking. On a more complicated level, this acknowledges the tragic role alcohol intoxication plays in encouraging firearms violence. This law would reduce both forms of alcohol-related harm—gun-related and dangerous-driving-related.

SB 58, the “Relentlessly Dangerous 4 A.M. Bar” Bill: As detailed elsewhere, 2018 marks the third consecutive year in which Sen. Scott Wiener has attempted to overturn California’s standardized last call time. In this case, the senator may be “governor shopping”. After all, erstwhile Gov. Jerry Brown was crucial in vetoing last year’s version of the bill, while Governor Gavin Newsom is, himself, a benefactor of the alcohol industry. This makes it imperative that concerned Californians stop the bill in the legislature. After all, later last call times are associated with more violence, injury, emergency room impact, crime and enforcement costs, and, of course, early-morning dangerous driving.

Alcohol Justice remains determined to fight alcohol deregulation and dangerous legislation. We will keep you updated as these bills move through the capitol, or you can follow them on our California Alcohol Legislation Tracker.

READ MORE about the Dry Bar Bill.

READ MORE about how alcohol may compromise the governor.

READ MORE about the dangers of late last call times. 


Big Alcohol's Ad Blitz: The Only Thing Anyone Remembered from Super Bowl LIII

budlight puntSuper Bowl LIII may go down in history as the worst Big Game of all time. Still, in one way it met expectations: as a showcase for megabrewer AB InBev, who spent over $50 million to put branded alcohol content in front of millions of underage eyes. That marks the largest ad buy for the bigggest name in Big Alcohol, ever.

Alcohol Justice has long condemned the flood of alcohol that permeates the Big Game. Super Bowls attract an estimated 30 million underage viewers, and the close association with beer (amplified by the rise of viewers who “watch it for the ads”) normalizes consumption—even makes it seem obligatory. This is worsened by AB InBev’s cynical decision to use “ASMR,” an online, youth-oriented video trend wherein amplified whispers draw the viewer in, in its signature ad. Clearly, the time is long past for the NFL to get AB InBev out of the SuperBowl.

But while they remain there, Alcohol Justice will shout back at the TV. Watch our newest videos below. We promise there is more going on in the two minutes of footage we put together than in the entire 27 minutes the Rams had the ball.


READ MORE about AB InBev’s history of using the Super Bowl to reach children.

WATCH youth-made videos meant to Free Our Sports.

Governor Newsom: Don’t Let Your Wine Interests Trump Your Ethics

Alcohol harm advocates protesting Gov. Newsom's wine storeby Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director/CEO

Alcohol prevention advocates are unsure what to expect from the new governor of California, Gavin Newsom. Newsom ran on a platform supporting a single-payer universal health care system. I served on his own Blue Ribbon Health Care Commission which eventually created a partial “universal health care” scheme in San Francisco, so I very much believe he cares for health care. Alcohol-related harm is a major expense for California, to the tune of $14.5 billion annual cost to government.

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