SACRAMENTO—We were just checking out the latest offerings from everyone's good buddy in Sacramento, Isadore Hall III (D-Compton), to see what pressing social issues have attracted his attention, and we found one: AB 640, "An act to amend Section 22972 of the Business and Professions Code, relating to cigarettes and tobacco products," which he introduced on February 20.
Let's track that bill a bit, shall we?
On March 19, an amendment made the bill a lot more complicated, plus it changed the amended section of the Business and Professions Code from 22972, dealing with licensing of retailers, to 22963, which change would require retailers to accept military ID cards as proof of age to buy tobacco products. Probably a good idea. After all, some soldiers come back from overseas with all their civilian IDs either lost or out-of-date, and who would deny our combat veterans a pack of smokes, eh?
But then, a funny thing happened on June 20. Gone from AB 640 was any mention of age verification for the military, and in its place was "An act to amend Section 22963 of the Business and Professions Code, relating to cigarettes and tobacco products add Section 6720 to the Labor Code, relating to employee safety."
Wow! Who'd'a thunk allowing vets to buy ciggies was a threat to employee safety—besides the fact that tobacco smoking will kill you, that is?
But then we read the text of the substituted language and it rang a familiar bell, so we checked back over our old stories, and there it was: "Calif. Assemblymember Introduces Statewide Forced Condom Bill"!
Yep, it was our old pal, AB 332, dressed up with a new number but carrying the same old tired (and expensive) arguments—in fact, so expensive that the Assembly Appropriations Committee put it in its "suspense" file because it was projected to cost over $150,000 to implement—a low estimate, in our opinion—and because committee chairman Mike Gatto told the Los Angeles Times, "Passing a bill, of questionable First Amendment validity, that would certainly subject the state to expensive lawsuits, would simply cost too much for California right now.”
AB 332's consignment to suspense occurred, coincidentally, on May 8, though there remained the possibility that the committee would take it up again during its last scheduled meeting of the current legislative session, May 24. But it didn't, and AB 332 is officially dead.
But what would any good horror story be these days without a nod to zombies? So less than a month after AB 332's demise, lo and behold, it was brought back to life (more or less) as AB 640!
Actually, those first amendments of June 20 appear to be sort of placeholders for the full bill that was to come with the next set of amendments. Rather, the June 20 amendments, besides defining "adult film," mere stated that "(a) The Legislature finds and declares that the protection of workers in the adult film industry is the responsibility of multiple layers of government; and (b) Notwithstanding any other law, a city, county, or city and county may adopt and enforce a local ordinance that protects against the exposure of workers to blood or other potentially infectious materials during the filming or production of an adult film."
Big whoop there: Measure B had already passed and was in the middle of a protracted lawsuit by June 20, so it was only with the July 3 amendments that AB 640 was made into essentially an AB 332 clone.
For example, passage of AB 640 was now deemed "urgent" and therefore "to take effect immediately." Also, according to the Legislative Counsel's Digest, which is prepared for every bill that comes before the legislature, it would require a two-thirds vote for passage, and for some reason would not need to be voted on in either the Appropriations nor Fiscal Committees, possibly because it was claimed not to involve a "state-mandated local program."
Even so, the July 3 amendments amounted to only a single paragraph at the end of the bill: "This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the Constitution and shall go into immediate effect. The facts constituting the necessity are: In order to protect workers in the adult film industry from an imminent threat to public health as soon as possible, it is necessary that this act take effect immediately."
Try as we might, though, we've been unable to find any news on or before July 3 of an "imminent threat to public health" being posed by the adult industry—unless it was the fact that in late June, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in the Prop 8 case that intervenors like AIDS Healthcare Foundation had no standing to challenge lawsuits against things like Measure B, and since it had been rumored that AHF had played a major role in the drafting of AB 332, perhaps the "imminent threat" was that they would be thrown out of the Measure B case.
In any case, despite the "urgency" plea, nothing happened with AB 640 except that it was again amended... yesterday.
As of August 27, pretty much all the language that had previously been in AB 640 was gone, to be replaced by the exact language of AB 332 as of its last amendments on April 17, only this time, the Legislative Counsel's Digest states that it will only need a simple majority to pass, that it must be vetted by the Fiscal Committee (but not Appropriations), and that it will involve one or more "state-mandated local programs." Once again, it states that, "An employer shall maintain engineering and work practice controls sufficient to protect employees from exposure to blood and any potentially infectious materials, in accordance with Section 5193 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations," and once again, those controls could include, but are not limited to, simulated sex, condoms "and other protective barriers whenever acts of vaginal or anal intercourse are filmed," and bloodborne pathogen plans and training to implement them, all in accordance with Title 8 Section 5193 of the Health Code.
If the rumors are correct, and AHF is both vetting (if not outright composing) the language of AB 640 and providing inducements to Assemblymember Hall, who is in his third and final term in office, to introduce the revised bill, the August 27 amendments may represent AHF's fear that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will, unlike Judge Pregerson, take the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Hollingsworth v. Perry seriously and drop AHF from the Vivid lawsuit—and therefore, AHF may see AB 640 as its last chance to force the adult industry to use condoms, dental dams, goggles, face shields and, yes, hazmat suits in its productions.
Only time will tell.