Calif. Assemblymember Introduces Statewide Forced Condom Bill

LOS ANGELES—In a press conference held today at the offices of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Assemblymember Isadore Hall III (D-Compton) introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 332, which would change the state's Labor Code to require that adult movie actors use "engineering and work practice controls" when performing sexual acts in adult movies.

Specifically, the bill would create a new Sec. 6720 to the Labor Code, and Sec. 6720(c) reads, "An employer shall maintain engineering and work practice controls sufficient to protect employees from exposure to blood and any potentially infectious materials. Engineering and work practice controls shall include, but are not limited to, the following," below which Sec. 6720(c)(2) states, "Provision of and required use of condoms and other protective barriers whenever acts of vaginal or anal intercourse are filmed."

As AVN has previously reported, a listing of "other protective barriers" can be found in Title 8 of the California Labor Code, Section 5193, which states, under the category "(4) Personal Protective Equipment,"  "Where occupational exposure remains after institution of engineering and work practice controls, the employer shall provide, at no cost to the employee, appropriate personal protective equipment such as, but not limited to, gloves, gowns, laboratory coats, face shields or masks and eye protection, and mouthpieces, resuscitation bags, pocket masks, or other ventilation devices. Personal protective equipment will be considered 'appropriate' only if it does not permit blood or OPIM [Other Potentially Infectious Material] to pass through to or reach the employee's work clothes, street clothes, undergarments, skin, eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes under normal conditions of use and for the duration of time which the protective equipment will be used." [Emphasis added]

Other sections of the same regulation detail specifics about the "protective barriers," such as the requirement that, "Masks in combination with eye protection devices, such as goggles or glasses with solid side shields, or chin-length face shields, shall be worn whenever splashes, spray, spatter, or droplets of blood or OPIM may be generated and eye, nose, or mouth contamination can be reasonably anticipated." [Emphasis added]

Bear in mind that under the "definitions" section of the bill, the diseases which the "protective barriers" are to be effective against include not only "HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, [and] hepatitis," but also "genital human papillomavirus infection, and genital herpes," both of which can be transmitted by any bare-skin contact between an infected person and a non-infected person. Hence, it would appear that the only way to prevent transmission of all of the listed diseases would be for performers to attempt to have sex while wearing full-body hazardous material ("hazmat") suits.

And if that weren't enough, AB 332 also requires that, "An employer shall designate a custodian of records for purposes of this section. A copy of the original production shall be retained by the custodian of records." While this might seem to piggyback on the federal recordkeeping and labeling requirements of 18 U.S.C. §2257, there is currently a lawsuit filed by Free Speech Coalition and others to overturn 2257, and if such lawsuit succeeds, then AB 332 would require roughly the same expenses for adult producers that the federal law had mandated.

Yet another provision of the proposed law would require employers to pay for hepatitis B vaccinations for all performers, as well as "the costs of required medical monitoring such as STD testing," and to "keep confidential employee records." It will also require all performers and producers to receive specialized training regarding the "written health and safety program" that all producers will be required to create, and California's bloodborne pathogens standard that all producers and performers will be required to follow.

Somewhat puzzling, however, is Section 2 of AB 332 reads as follows: "No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIIIB of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIIIB of the California Constitution." This is the only place in the proposed law which mentions either a "crime" or "infraction," and nowhere in the bill is it noted that there are any specific penalties for failing to abide by its requirements, so one has to wonder whether such penalties will appear out of nowhere in the regulations that will inevitably follow passage of the Act.

And finally, the bill provides what its authors likely believe is a sop to opponents of the measure, which reads, "This section shall not be construed to require condoms, barriers, or other personal protective equipment to be visible in the final product of an adult film." This brand of generosity should only cost producers several thousand dollars per minute to digitally remove the condoms, gloves, face shields and hazmat suits required to be used in the production, to the point where it might just be cheaper to animate the whole thing and do away with live performers altogether.

Or as Steve Hirsch, founder and co-chairman of Vivid Entertainment, told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, "There is no legislation or referendum vote that can trump expressive conduct, which is protected by the First Amendment." Vivid, of course, is one of three plaintiffs to have sued Los Angeles County over its intended implementation of Measure B, which would mandate the same "protective barriers" as Hall's proposed bill.

According to AB 332, CalOSHA, which will administer the new section of the Health Code, is required to "adopt emergency regulations to impliment" the new law by July 1, 2014, so it appears that Assemblymember Hall isn't in a great hurry to put his measures into force.

On the heels of Hall's and AHF's announcement, the FSC has released the following response:

"Tragically, this law - if passed - will not only waste taxpayer dollars and compromise the effective performer health protocols already in place, but also compromise funding for critical HIV programs by diverting program funds to create an unnecessary condom-police bureaucracy,” FSC CEO Diane Duke said. “Additionally, this regulation would force an industry vital to the San Fernando Valley and to California’s economy out of the area.”

The proposed bill, which has been tagged as AB-332, follows the passage of the Los Angeles “Safer Sex” Ordinance for Adult Production, which mandates barrier protection for adult productions shot in L.A. County. The new legislation is being sponsored by Assemblyman Isadore Hall III (D - Compton), who held a Valentine’s Day press conference to announce that he will introduce the bill to California lawmakers.

“While other legislators are focused on gun safety, improving our schools and reducing crime, Assembly Member Hall has chosen to use his taxpayer funded salary and staff to focus on adult films,” Duke added. “We look forward to Assembly Member Hall visiting with adult film stars in the coming weeks to learn more about the exhaustive safety precautions already used by the industry.”

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) have been the sole backers of mandatory condom laws in Los Angeles since 2004; the organization has relentless spread misinformation and vilified adult industry performers and businesses as vectors for sexually-transmitted infections that AHF President Michael Weinstein has claimed are a threat to public health.

“In LA County alone, between June 30, 2008 and June 30 2011, 6,447 new cases of HIV were reported by the California Department of Public Health,” Duke explained further. “Out of the 6,447; two were adult entertainment performers. Both of those performers contracted HIV off-set and no transmission of HIV occurred during that time period on set. In fact, NO transmissions of HIV have occurred on an adult set since 2004…. NATIONWIDE!”

As the trade association of the adult entertainment industry, FSC will continue oppose ineffective legislation that will grievously harm the business interests of its membership and the adult industry community, as well as waste funds of taxpayers. FSC also upholds the right choice for performers in regards to use of barrier protection.  

Pictured: Isadore Hall III and the "Condom Police."