Two Steps in the Right Direction for Free-Market Policy Ideas


2021 can best be described as another year of progressive advancement in the once-Golden State.  However, there were some notable free market policy achievements that are worth applauding, specifically two bills signed by Gov. Newsom in recent days.  While neither of these bills could truly be described as true policy victories, they are nonetheless a step in the right direction toward market-based policies that will benefit consumers and entrepreneurs.

Letting Restaurants Sell To-Go Cocktails Permanently 

Previously on Right by the Bay, I wrote about a temporary setback in state regulations that allowed restaurants to sell to-go cocktails with takeout meals.  Begun during the pandemic when in-person dining was shut down across the state, to-go cocktails were a way for customers to enjoy the full experience dining at their favorite restaurants while at home.

With an Oakland restaurant as a backdrop on Friday, Gov. Newsom signed Senate Bill 389, by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, which “allows restaurants, bars, breweries, and wineries that sell food to offer to-go alcoholic beverages with food orders through December 31, 2026.”  Previously, temporary regulatory relief from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control allowed the sale of to-go cocktails with food purchases only through the end of 2021.

“This is an important step toward helping our restaurants, which have been hit hard by the pandemic,” said Sen. Dodd in response to the bill’s signing.

As noted wine blogger David White of told PRI’s Next Round podcast last year, “freedom of choice should mean that if you’re a restaurant owner, you should have every right to sell a pre-packaged cocktail and allow folks to take it home with them.”

While this is a change that should be made permanently in state law, SB 389 is certainly a step in the right direction, one that will benefit still-struggling restaurants and customers alike.

Reducing Heavy Burdens to Become a Hairstylist 

PRI’s Breaking Down Barriers to Opportunities series documents the heavy burdens that government in many states imposes on individuals just for the right to work in the field of their choice.

California, not surprisingly, is one of the worst states for occupational licensing requirements in many different fields.  The Institute for Justice has documented that California has the third most burdensome licensing laws in the country, and is the most broadly and onerously licensed state.

For example, many states including California impose strict requirements to become a barber or hairstylist.  Up until now, barbers and cosmetologists were required to get a whopping 1,600 hours of training before they could work, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Under a new law (Senate Bill 803 by Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside) just signed by Gov. Newsom, this requirement will drop to 1,000 hours and requirements for a hands-on exam to receive a license will be dropped.  In addition, hairstylists will only have to receive 600 hours of training to work.

Of course, 1,000 hours of training to become a barber is still excessive.  As PRI’s Wayne Winegarden wrote of a similar training requirement in Connecticut, “an aspiring barber must devote 6 months of his or her life toward full-time training (assuming they train 8 hours a day, 5 days a week) to meet the government mandated licensing requirements.”  He argues that these high costs discourage current or aspiring entrepreneurs.

While it is a step in the right direction to lower California’s barber training requirements from 1,600 hours to 1,000 hours, clearly more must be done to replace these government-mandated barriers to opportunity with more reasonable and realistic training requirements.

Tim Anaya is the Pacific Research Institute’s senior director of communications and the Sacramento office.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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