AB 1576 Defeated in Appropriations Committee

SACRAMENTO—AB 1576, the bill sponsored by Assemblyman Isadore Hall III which would have required condoms and other barrier protections for performers acting in adult movies, has been defeated, according to Kink.com CEO Peter Acworth and Free Speech Coalition.

The Senate Appropriations Committee, which is still in session, has reportedly considered the expenses that would be attendant to the bill's passage, including such expenses as hiring additional Cal/OSHA investigators to visit adult sets to enforce compliance, as well as drawing up regulations and devising recordkeeping to keep track of producers' compliance with its requirements.

“We’re grateful to the members of the Senate who saw this bill for what it was: a bald-faced attempt to exploit performers for political gain," said Diane Duke, CEO of Free Speech Coalition, which organized to defeat the bill. "But the assault had an unintended consequence: it unified performers and producers in ways that we haven’t seen in decades. Out of this grows a stronger industry, one not intimidated by harassment campaigns like AB 1576. But the battle is not actually over, for we must always work to make sure our productions are safe and legal, that our performers have a strong voice in their own sexual health, and to keep a thriving industry in California."

The bill was opposed by a wide variety of organizations, including The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, the Transgender Law Center, testing center St. James Infirmary, the Los Angeles GLBT Law Center, Project Inform of San Francisco, and AIDS Project Los Angeles. It was also opposed by the Valley Industry & Commerce Association.

"The bill never made it off the suspense file, which means that it's dead for this legislative session, so AB 1576 will not advance to the Senate for a vote," said Michael Stabile, a spokesperson for Free Speech Coalition. "As is the Appropriation Committee's practice, they don't say what the vote was or even if there was a vote. Officially, there is no vote; it's a purely budgetary decision, so they just tell you 'yes' or 'no,' if it advances or doesn't. The fact that it did not advance suggests that it did not have support either within the Appropriations Committee or on the Senate floor. It's also worth noting that some of the strongest voices against this bill were from anti-HIV organizations, LGBT groups and sexworker rights organizations. We had great support from outside the industry from many groups and individuals who knew what a bad bill this was."

UPDATE: Assemblymember Isadore Hall III, who will be serving his final term in the state Assembly this year, has released the following statement in response to his bill's defeat:

"In a year where the legislature and I have focused heavily on protecting California’s film industry, it is unfortunate that some legislators don’t believe that protection should include keeping California actors safe while they are at work," Hall said in a press release.

"While I am disappointed with today’s outcome, one thing is and has always been clear on this issue: existing state and federal blood borne pathogen laws already require the use of a condom or barrier device when producing an adult film anywhere in California and the United States. AB 1576 wouldn’t have changed existing law, but it would have helped increase industry compliance in protecting its workers.”

"Here is the dirty little secret about porn production in California: it’s just work. Take away the racy titles and creative storylines found in many of these films and adult film actors become, well, just workers. My commitment to protect the health and safety of California workers has only been strengthened by my work on this issue. That commitment will continue through my legislative efforts in the years to come."

Hall is expected to make a run for the California Senate during the next election cycle.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation issued the following statement this afternoon. It reads, "Regardless of whether AB 1576 became law this year, condom use already is—and has been—the law in California under existing Cal/OSHA authority. The porn industry has simply chosen to ignore these laws, with few, if any, repercussions to date for producers. As for AB 1576: We will reintroduce the bill next year and are proud of the fact that we moved this legislation farther along in this session than any previous year. By way of comparison, it took over a decade to get a needle exchange bill passed on a statewide level, so we are prepared for a long haul, if that’s what it takes." 

On the other side of the issue, Dee Michel of San Francisco-based testing center St. James Infirmary told AVN that she was pleased with the outcome of the Appropriations Committee vote.

"I am the harm reduction coordinator at St. James Infirmary and I have been working on defeating AB 1576, along with community partners," Michel said. "We are very pleased that AB 1576 is dead in suspense by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The St. James Infirmary has worked with performers and other community partners to defeat this bill, including those from the sex worker and LGBTQ communities. We hope that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Michael Weinstein will now focus their efforts on reducing HIV transmission in communities that need it most, and stop scapegoating sex workers and porn performers. We also hope that legislators will respect porn performers' privacy and rights and include crucial industry voices in future legislation."

Also weighing in is Chanel Preston, newly-elected president of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC):

"I was thrilled to hear about AB 1576," Preston commented to AVN. "It was not an easy task for an industry that rarely gets support from outside groups, but we were able to come together and defeat this bill. As a result of fighting this bill, performers have broken down stereotypes and stigmas, gained a stronger voice, a more respected reputation, and more than ever before performers have come together and united. AHF may continue their attempts to break down the industry, but so far it has only made us a stronger community. Despite the battles we will continue to face, I believe this experience sets an incredible precedent for performers and the future of the industry."