This was just sent to me by Assemblymember Pedro Nava. It’s a huge relief to have someone within the Assembly watching out for wine grape growers during these very difficult economic times:

Assemblymember Pedro Nava Votes Against Winery Tax Increase…

Sacramento – Assemblymember Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara & Ventura) voted against Assembly Bill 1019, a tax increase that targeted wine grape growers. The measure failed.

“I represent many family-owned wineries and wine grape growers. This measure could be devastating to their businesses in an already tough economy,” said Nava. “Thousands of jobs were at stake and the last thing we need to do is make the already bad unemployment situation worse.”

AB 1019 would have imposed a 10 cent per drink fee on the sale of all beer, wine and liquor in the state of California. It also would allow the California Board of Equalization to increase the fee every year.

AB 1019 failed passage in the Assembly Health Committee last week.

For more information on Assemblymember Nava please visit:

[Editor’s Note: His Email continued with the following story from the San Jose Mercury News.]

Like week-old beer, alcohol tax falls flat
By Mike Zapler
San Jose Mercury News Sacramento Bureau
Posted: 04/27/2009

SACRAMENTO – Talk about a buzz kill.

A week after state Assemblyman Jim Beall served up a bill to slap a dime-a-drink fee on alcoholic beverages; the San Jose Democrat withdrew the proposal Monday, citing a lack of support.

“I think all this bill needs is a little time to age,” Beall declared in a news release, adding that he may revisit the idea later.

The Assembly Health Committee put the proposed alcohol levy on hold last week after an initial vote showed scant support. Only three committee members backed the bill, AB 1019, while seven voted against it and nine abstained.

“An increase of this sort is going to cause significant hardship,” for family winegrowers, Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, said during the hearing. “They are a significant employer in my district.”

Beall spent the past few days scrounging for votes before realizing it was a lost cause. Withdrawing the bill allows him to reintroduce it, perhaps next year.

The assemblyman had argued that a higher tax is long overdue — it was last raised in 1991 — to offset the costs to society that alcohol causes. The toll, he said, includes drunken driving deaths, health problems and treatment for alcohol abuse. The proposal would have generated about $1.4 billion annually.

Beer and wine are major industries in California and big contributors to political campaigns.

Beall proposed an even steeper alcohol tax last year but it, too, fell flat as a glass of week-old beer. But Beall’s spirits were lifted when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed his own nickel-a-drink alcohol tax to help balance the state budget. A Public Policy Institute poll showed 85 percent backing for the governor’s tax, but it was not included in the final budget agreement reached in February.