A bill that would allow 10 California cities to extend last call at bars from 2 to 4 a.m. has a fresh shot at making it to the governor’s desk. Will Sen. Scott Wiener’s SB 58 get a friendlier reception from winemaker-turned-governor Gavin Newsom?
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Update: This proposal was amended to set bar closing times to 3 a.m., but nonetheless went down to defeat in the final hours of the 2019 legislative session
A bill that would extend last call from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. in several California cities has a fresh shot at becoming law after it was unceremoniously vetoed last year.
What changed? The person in the governor’s office.
San Francisco Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener is hoping his alcohol extension bill, SB 58, will find friendlier reception in winemaker-turned-governor Gavin Newsom, who founded PlumpJack in 1992 by opening a wine shop in San Francisco with philanthropist Gordon Getty. The brand has since flourished into a chain of boutique wineries, restaurants and bars throughout Northern California.
Wiener’s legislation cleared the state Senate this week with bipartisan support and will now make its way through the Assembly. Former Gov. Jerry Brown had struck down Wiener’s nearly identical measure last year, saying that while businesses would generate more money, the state doesn’t need more inebriated people on the street.
“The businesses and cities in support of this bill see that as a good source of revenue. The California Highway Patrol, however, strongly believes that this increased drinking will lead to more drunk driving,” he penned in his veto message. “California’s laws regulating late night drinking have been on the books since 1913. I believe we have enough mischief from midnight to 2 without adding two more hours of mayhem.”
Wiener, who has made several attempts at putting the bill on the governor’s desk, isn’t breaking out the champagne just yet.
“I don’t want to make a prediction about what Gov. Newsom will do,” Wiener said in an interview. “I believe that Gov. Newsom will have an open mind and hearing us out on why this bill is a good idea.”
“We were very disappointed that Gov. Brown vetoed it,” Wiener added. “His veto message, with all respect, was unfounded.”
SB 58 would allow 10 cities—San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, West Hollywood, Long Beach, Coachella, Cathedral City, Fresno and Palm Springs—to decide if they want to extend alcohol service at bars to 4 a.m. through a five-year pilot program. While most states mandate last call at 2 a.m., the bill would allow these California cities to join New York City’s 4 a.m. service cutoff.
Although Newsom put the company in a blind trust, PlumpJack could be one of the many businesses across the state to benefit from the bill. His sister Hilary Newsom and cousin Jeremy Scherer run the day-to-day operation of the PlumpJack Group.
However Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson noted that the cities, not the state, will ultimately determine whether to keep bars open.
“I think the governor has been very open about his businesses and his interest in his businesses,” Levinson said. “[SB 58] feels like something we’ve talked about for a while. This doesn’t seem like the type of change he would drive through for financial benefit.”
Newsom spokesman Brian Ferguson said the governor will evaluate the bill on its own merits if it passes, and hasn’t yet taken a position on it.
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