Hall & Bloom Revise AB 332 After Arts Committee Hearing

SACRAMENTO—Following the success of their bill, AB 332, before the California Assembly's Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media Committee last Tuesday, Assembly members Isadore Hall III and Richard Bloom have revised the text of their proposed legislation which prohibits skin-to-skin contact between adult performers having sex on camera—and the changes aren't favorable to the adult industry.

For one thing, the bill is no longer an "emergency" regulation, which may make it easier for it to be carried over to the legislature's next term if it fails to pass muster in its hearing before the Assembly Labor Committee, which is scheduled for April 24.

But the real meat of the change comes in proposed Section 6720(c), which a previous report on AVN.com noted would require that the "employer ... maintain engineering and work practice controls sufficient to protect employees from exposure to blood and any potentially infectious materials." That article's analysis of this sentence concluded that the "engineering and work practice controls" had to refer to the California Health Code, which is Title 8, Section 5193 of the California Code of Regulations—and sure enough, the bill's authors (or, more likely, attorneys working for AIDS Healthcare Foundation) have added language which states exactly that: The engineering and work practice controls must now be "in accordance with Section 5193 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations." (New language in the bill, which can be found here, has been displayed in italics.)

The revised version also requires employers not only to make Hepatitis B vaccinations available to adult performers, but that those employers consult Section 5193 for "all medical followup [sic]" mandated by that Section—even though the vaccinations themselves remain voluntary under the proposed law.

But perhaps the most interesting changes being made to the bill are the ones that attempt to take the human element out of the decision-making process.

For example, in Section (h)(1), the previous version of the bill stated, "An employer shall adopt, implement, maintain, and update, as required, a written health and safety program that is approved by the department and that meets the requirements of the Injury and Illness Prevention Program and the bloodborne pathogens standard, described, respectively, in Sections 3203 and 5193 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations." The new version removes the phrase "that is approved by the department and." Then, Section (h)(2) makes a similar deletion, removing the phrase "department-approved information and training on health and safety to employees at the employer’s expense," leaving only a requirement that "The employer shall provide ... a training program."

In both cases, the revisions suggest that someone is worried that a California Health Department employee might decide that even if an adult production has failed to comply with every jot or tittle of Section 5193, he or she might still allow production on a particular project to continue, perhaps upon promises that the compliance failures would be rectified shortly. The new language would take such decision-making power out of anyone's hands, thus forcing all companies to comply with the "letter of the law" in all cases, at all times, under all circumstances.

Finally, a new Section (2)(k) has been added to the bill, likely in an attempt to short-circuit the argument that since adult performers are tested for STDs on at least a monthly basis, with some companies requiring such testing every two weeks, requiring the condoms, dental dams, latex gloves, goggles, face shields and hazmat suits is unnecessary because the testing procedures minimize the possibility of STD transmission between performers on set.

That new section reads, "The Legislature finds and declares that screening for STDs is a critical public health measure and should be employed wherever possible, including the adult film industry. Therefore, this section shall not be construed to impede or replace STD screening of all employees, as defined in paragraph (2) of subdivision (b), pursuant to STD screening protocols established by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State Department of Public Health, and the public health department in the county where the filming occurs."

While there appear to be no set "STD screening protocols" on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website, that phrase in Section (2)(k) probably refers to the CDC's Clinical Prevention Guidance page, which can be found here. In short, the CDC's protocols for preventing transmission of STDs include abstinence, a reduction in the number of sex partners, and pre-exposure vaccinations, as well as the use of male condoms, female condoms, topical microbicides and spermicides (which adult performers say irritate the vaginal walls), and includes this phrase: "Contraceptive methods that are not mechanical barriers offer no protection against HIV or other STDs."