Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Self-Service Checkout Booze Ban Bill Fails in California Senate First Time Around; 'Missing Seven' Dems Hold Key to Passage By Friday

Self service or "assisted" checkout at Fresh & Easy.
"It ain't over 'til it's over."  -Yogi Berra

AB 183, the bill that if it becomes law would ban sales of alcoholic beverages at self-service checkout stands in grocery and other types of retail stores in California, has failed to gain the needed 21-vote majority required to pass in the California State Senate.

But the voting is far from over.

Following a 17-to-16 vote in favor of passage of AB 183 late yesterday, Senator Christine Kehoe (Democrat-San Diego), who is carrying the legislation in the California State Senate for its author, Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (Democrat-San Francisco), made a motion to reconsider, which was approved by all 40 members of the Senate.

As a result, yesterday's vote is what's called an unofficial ballot, which means AB 183 will come up for another (the official) vote before Friday, which is the last day of the current legislative session and the deadline for both houses of the state legislature to pass bills and send them to the Governor.

Should AB 183 pass in the Senate and then be signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, it will have a singular immediate impact on Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market because the retailer, which has 127 of its 177 fresh food and grocery stores in California, is the only chain in the Golden State that has a self-service checkout only system. The other 49 Fresh & Easy markets are in metro Las Vegas, Nevada (21 units) and metro Phoenix, Arizona (28 stores)

AB 183 requires all purchases of alcoholic beverages to be transacted in a face-to-face interaction with a store clerk, which means full-service checkout.

Many retailers in California offer self-service checkout in their stores but as an option along with the traditional full-service checkout. For these retailers a ban on sales of alcohol at self-service checkouts merely means customers will have to use the full-service checkouts when buying booze.

But for Tesco's Fresh & Easy, if AB 183 becomes law it will mean the retailer will need to at a minimum convert at least one of the checkout stands in each of its California stores to a full-service unit, in order to comply with the face-to-face interaction provision of the bill.

The long range future implication of the legislation for all retailers in California is that should they want to offer self-service checkout only in a store, such as a supermarket where alcoholic beverages are sold, they can't do so, instead having to offer some form of mixed self and full-service checkout in order to fulfill the legal requirements of AB 183.

The 'Missing Seven' Democrats

The reason AB 183 fell four votes short of gaining the 21 votes (simple majority) needed to pass is because seven members of the California State Senate, all Democrats, failed to vote, either because they were absent or abstained from voting on the measure.

Among the seven members who didn't vote for AB 183 yesterday was Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, a Democrat from the Northern California city of San Leandro.

The remaining six members, all Democrats, who failed to vote on the bill yesterday are: Senator Noreen Evans; Senator Carol Liu; Curren Price; Michael Rubio; Lois Wolk; and Leland Yee.

According to our sources, Senator Kehoe filed the motion to reconsider yesterday based on the absence of some or all of the seven members of her party, including the Senate Majority Leader.

Based on our ongoing reporting and analysis of the legislative bill and process, at least four of the "Missing Seven" members - and possibly all seven - plan to vote in favor of passage of AB 183 when it comes up for a vote again, which could be as early as today.

The bill needs favorable votes from just four of the seven members in order to gain the 21 votes required for passage. Stay tuned.

California Legislation to Ban Alcohol Sales at Self-Service Checkouts: Follow the Story at the Links Below

September 6, 2011: California State Senate Set to Vote on Self-Service Checkout Booze Ban Bill This Week

August 20, 2011: 'Son of Tesco Fresh & Easy Law': Self-Service Checkout Booze Ban Bill AB 183 Passes Out of California Senate Appropriations Committee; Headed For Senate Floor

July 27, 2011: 'Son of Tesco Fresh & Easy Law' Moving Through State Senate: Will California Determine Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's Checkout Scheme?

June 4, 2011: 'Son of Tesco Fresh Easy Law': Self-Checkout Booze Ban Bill AB 183 Sails Through California State Assembly; State Senate Next Stop

May 11, 2011: ‘Son of Tesco Fresh & Easy Law' - California Assembly Appropriations Committee Passes Self-Checkout Ban Bill AB 183 By 12-4 Margin

May 6, 2011: 'Son of Tesco Fresh & Easy Law': California State Assembly Appropriations Committee Hearing For AB 183 Cancelled

May 4, 2011: 'Son of Tesco Fresh & Easy Law': Strong Chance California Legislation to Prohibit Alcohol Sales at Self-Service Checkouts Could Pass This Year

September 30, 2010: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Hopes Governor Schwarzenegger Can Find His Veto Pen Before Midnight Tonight

September 28, 2010: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Hoping Governor Schwarzenegger Prefers His Veto Pen When it Comes to AB 1060

September 25, 2010: Future of Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's Self-Service-Only Checkout in California Up to Governor Schwarzenegger

August 24, 2010: California State Senate Sends Bill to Governor That Could End Self-Service-Only Checkout at Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market

August 15, 2010 piece : Bill to Ban Alcoholic Beverage Sales at Self-Service Checkouts Would End 'Self-Service Only' at California Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Stores

July 14, 2008: Breaking News & Analysis: CA Assemblyman Introduces 'Tesco Fresh & Easy Law' to Ban Stores With Self-Checkout-Only From Selling Alcoholic Beverages.

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