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California Businesses Won't Have To Pay Liquor License Renewal Fees

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The iconic clown sign for Circus Liquor, located at the corner of Vineland and Burbank in North Hollywood. May 2020. (Elina Shatkin/LAist)
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If California says businesses can't operate at full capacity, should those businesses still have to pay licensing and regulatory fees to the state? Many businesses say, "Hell, no." The state of California, perhaps surprisingly, agrees with them.

That's the idea behind SB94, a bill that temporarily waives renewal fees for alcohol, barbering and cosmetology licenses.

Authored by State Senator Nancy Skinner of Berkeley, it was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday as part of a COVID-19 relief package consisting of six bills.

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SB94 directs California's Alcoholic Beverage Control department to waive renewal fees for liquor licenses that expire between March 1, 2021, and Feb. 28, 2023 -- as long as a license was active between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020.

The provisions apply to any business that manufactures, distributes or sells alcoholic beverages, which includes restaurants, bars, liquor stores, wineries, breweries and distilleries.

For salons, SB94 prohibits the State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology from collecting renewal fees for any license that expires between Jan. 1, 2021, and Jan. 1, 2023.

To make up for the revenue loss to the state, the bill redirects $25.6 million from the General Fund.

Previously, restaurants in five counties -- Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Monterey and Sacramento -- had sued to block California from collecting these fees.

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SB94's fee waivers end after Jan. 1, 2025.