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Nickel- And Dime-A-Drink Bills Introduced in California Legislature

Taxing alcohol by the drink has more lives than a legion of cats, and has come back bigger and meaner than ever with a dime-a-drink tax in the California Assembly and a new nickel tax — disguised as a fee — filed in the Senate.

Assembly Bill AB 1019 [VIP Data Cellar link] introduced Feb. 27 by Silicon Valley Assembly Member Jim Beall Jr., calls for a $0.10 tax per drink tax.

SB 558[VIP Data Cellar link] the Nickel Tax, — wrapped in “fee” clothing to avoid a two-thirds vote — was introduced Feb. 27, by Walnut Creek Senator Mark DeSaulnier.

Both Beall and DeSaulnier are Democrats.

California faces a $8 billion shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year which begins July 1.

BEALL SAYS ALCOHOL DEVASTATES PUBLIC, “WALKS AWAY WITH MONEY STUFFED IN ITS POCKETS”

Beall’s legislation requires funds collected from the new tax be separated from other alcohol taxes and deposited into a new fund for treatment of “alcohol and other drug addictions.”

“The alcohol industry creates devastating problems – traffic accidents, alcoholism – and walks away with money stuffed in its pockets while the public — including non-drinkers — are left to pay billions for the mess,’’ said Beall, D-San Jose, on his web site.

AB 1019 WOULD RAISE WINE TAXES 1,100-PERCENT

Beall said AB 1019 would bring in $1.2 billion in revenue and would raise the tax on:

  • Distilled spirits to $12.80 per gallon, roughly a 290 percent increase, based on Board of Equalization calculations.
  • Wine would be taxed at $2.56 per gallon, an increase of more than 1100 percent.
  • The beer tax would be $1.07, an increase of approximately 400 percent.

ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO — SAME THING

“Taxing tobacco to pay for health costs is now widely accepted,” Beall said.  “In fact, President Obama raised taxes on tobacco to expand children’s health coverage a few weeks ago. Why should alcohol be treated differently?”

DESAULNIER LOW-KEY ON NICKEL-A-DRINK “FEE”

Senator DeSaulnier is playing his legislation very low key, with no mention of SB 558 on his web site — no press release, no news story and no link to the legislation. Other than wrapping his tax in the guise of a fee, his legislation is mostly a re-run of previous bills and would be assessed on “only at the first point of sale
within the state.”