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Entertainment enhancements sail through California Assembly committee

Alcohol, gambling and haircuts took center stage at a California Assembly committee meeting Wednesday.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — California lawmakers took up an issue Wednesday that has long vexed local restaurants and bars: letting them sell when an outdoor festival invades their neighborhood.

Currently, if a city holds an outdoor festival, outside vendors can sell booze but existing businesses located within the festival area can’t, state Senator Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, told the state Assembly Governmental Organization Committee on Wednesday.

“The mom-and-pop restaurants and bars that are inside that zone, that are right there, are not allowed to sell,” Wiener said.

Senate Bill 76 intends to change that. The bill, which passed the committee Wednesday and now heads to Assembly Appropriations, would enable cities to create entertainment zones as of Jan. 1, 2024. It would also enable someone who holds a music venue license to sell, serve and allow alcohol consumption during private events, regardless of whether a live performance happens.

“This is a bill that has received broad bipartisan support,” Wiener said.

Louis Mirante with the Bay Area Council, which represents some 330 large San Francisco Bay Area employers, said the bill makes it easier to draw people in and for downtowns to host events.

Carson Benowitz-Fredericks, with Alcohol Justice, opposes the bill. He argued the bill as written would allow a city to create an entertainment zone every day of the year. Also, there’s no capacity restriction on the drinks that can be sold.

Add to this that SB 76 “cuts off at the knees” the state’s safety training for people in the service industry, as the activity happens outside of established bars.

Fred Jones, with the California Council on Alcohol Problems, said the bill would allow for alcohol consumption on public right-of-ways, where minors could be.

“The lack of regulatory guardrails are shocking,” he said.

The committee discussed two other bills that also touched on alcohol or gambling at Wednesday’s meeting. Both received the necessary votes and now move to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

SB 650, if passed into law, would remove the current Jan. 1, 2024, sunset on 50/50 raffles for the 50/50 Major League Sports Raffle Program. Charitable raffles have existed in California for over 20 years, and a bill passed in 2015 allowed professional sports leagues to conduct 50/50 raffles until Jan. 1, 2018.

In a 50/50 raffle, half of the funds are awarded to the raffle winner. The other half is given to a designated charity.

After evaluating the program’s effectiveness and impact, the the original sunset was extended to Jan. 1, 2024. If passed, there will be no new sunset.

State Senator Bill Dodd, a Napa Democrat, said the existing 50/50 raffle program has raised millions of dollars.

Amy Tovar, senior vice president of the San Francisco Giants, said the raffle has led to uniforms and gloves for all Junior Giants players, as well as health, confidence and anti-bullying programs.

“The 50/50 raffle has been a game changer,” she added.

The third bill — SB 247, by state Senator Scott Wilk, a Santa Clarita Republican — clarifies that an alcohol permit isn’t needed to serve wine or beer as part of a service regulated by the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.

Wilk quipped that his wife was breaking the law and didn’t realize it.

If passed, barbershops and beauty salons could serve a 6-ounce glass of wine or 12-ounce beer to adult customers.

Categories / Consumers, Economy, Government, Regional

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