June 30, 2014

SF Bay Area PSR is supporting a range of bills at the state level to improve human health and the health of the planet. The chapter supports several pieces of legislation to reduce gun violence, such as providing for better identification of gun ownership and manufacture, regulating purchases from out-of-state vendors, and ensuring that loved ones can seek a gun violence restraining order when someone is at significant risk of hurting themselves or others with a firearm.

Two bills, SB 1132 and SB 1371, have similar aims—to stem the tide of global warming and climate change—but met different fates. SB 1132 was narrowly defeated in the Senate. SB 1371 survived and is making its way through the Assembly. Read more on SB 1132 and SB 1371 here.

Not every bill was a clear winner or loser. SB 1005 (Lara), or the “Health Care for All Act,” would expand health care coverage to all Californians, regardless of immigration status. It is currently being held in the Senate Appropriations Committee, giving the Senate additional time to identify funding solutions.

Below is an update on the bills SF Bay Area PSR has taken positions on.

Bills to reduce gun violence:

AB 1014 (Skinner) Gun violence restraining order. This bill provides families and law enforcement with new legal tools for temporarily restricting the ability of individuals who pose a serious danger to themselves or others to possess firearms.

AB 1609 (Alejo)  Firearms; purchasing from out-of-state vendor. Existing law, subject to exceptions, requires a firearm transaction to be conducted by a state-licensed firearms dealer with certain requirements, such as a 10-day waiting period and purchaser background check. This bill requires a California resident who seeks to own and possess within the state a firearm acquired from outside the state to have the firearm delivered to a licensed dealer in this state and be subject to the same requirements.

AB 1964 (Dickinson) Unsafe handguns; single shot pistols. Currently, the Unsafe Handgun Law allows any person to purchase an “unsafe handgun” if it was modified to be a single shot weapon, prior to the buyer taking delivery. Buyers have learned that it’s easy to undo the conversion of a semi-automatic handgun to a single shot handgun, and return the weapon to its original illegal configuration. AB 1964 eliminates the “single shot” exemption to purchasing an “unsafe handgun.”  AB 1964 ensures that all handguns purchased through a dealer are handguns which meet all safety and firing tests and contain all state-required handgun safety features.

SB 53 (De Leon) Regulating ammunition purchases.  Ammunition sales are virtually unregulated in California, and there is currently no way to prevent individuals who are prohibited from purchasing firearms and ammunition from buying ammunition. Gang members, domestic batterers, murderers and other dangerous individuals can easily purchase ammunition with no questions asked. SB 53 will remedy this problem by regulating sellers of ammunition and by requiring purchasers of ammunition to undergo a background check.

SB 808 (DeLeon) Firearms: identifying information. This bill responds to several issues related to gun manufacture. For instance, it is possible now to make guns from plastic or metal that can pass through metal detectors undetected and that pose a danger in their crude functionality. This bill will begin to address these and other problems by requiring any person who makes or assembles a firearm to first apply to the Department of Justice for a unique serial number or other identifying mark that would have to be permanently engraved or affixed to the firearm. Prior to issuing the serial number, the department would require the applicant to pass a background check and would keep a record of the firearm.

Other bills:

AB 1699 (Bloom) Plastic microbeads in personal care products. This bill originally also covered cleaning products, but that element was amended out of the bill. Now the bill prohibits plastic microbeads in personal care products only. These are persistent organic compounds recognized to have serious deleterious impacts on human health or the environment, including DDT, DDE, PCBs, and flame-retardants.

SB 193 (Monning) Agency authority to protect worker health. This bill requires chemical manufacturers and others in the distribution chain to provide, upon written request from Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service (HESIS) in the California Department of Public Health, the names and addresses of employers who purchased specific toxic chemicals or commercial products containing those toxics.

SB 935 (Leno) Raise minimum wage. This bill raises the minimum wage over the next three years to $13.00 per hour and thereafter requires automatic adjustments for inflation.

SB 1014 (Jackson) Stewardship of unwanted drugs. As amended, SB 1014 will reinstate model take-back program guidelines, developed by CalRecycle, for local governments wanting to create their own drug take-back programs, so that efforts to ensure safe disposal of unwanted prescription drugs that people have in their homes can continue at the local level. Senator Jackson is considering how to move forward with legislation next year that will create a mandatory statewide drug take-back program.

SB 1019 (Leno) Flame retardant labeling. This bill requires upholstered-furniture manufacturers to warn consumers whether products contain added flame retardant chemicals using a specified statement on a label.  Additionally, the agency regulating these products will be given authority to cite and penalize anyone who misrepresents whether a piece of upholstered furniture contains any of these dangerous chemicals. The bill has been amended to no longer require signs at retail stores.

SB 1167 (Hueso) Obligations regarding habitability. This bill requires property owners to fix or abate conditions that create rodent infestations.

SB 1204 (Lara) Creating cleaner air. This bill creates the Clean Truck, Bus, and Off-Road Vehicle and Equipment Technology program to reduce emissions from the heavy-duty sector (e.g. trucks, buses, other off-road equipment) that harm lung health and contribute to climate change.

SB 1311 (Hill) Antimicrobial stewardship program. This bill strengthens current law to require that each general acute care hospital in California have an antimicrobial stewardship program and that it meet certain standards established by government and professional organizations.

SB 1371 (Leno) Statewide pipeline repair. This bill calls for the development and implementation of a plan to repair and prevent leakage of gas pipelines in California.

SB 1405 (deSaulnier) Pesticides in schools. This bill updates and strengthens the Healthy Schools Act of 2000 by improving schools’ and child day care facilities’ reporting requirements when pesticides are going to be applied, and by requiring that all applicators who apply pesticides on school grounds be trained in Integrated Pest Management, a least-toxic approach to pest control.

The following bills were defeated:

AB 1504 (Stone) Single-use toxic cigarette filters. Would have banned the sale of cigarettes with toxic single-use filters, which currently end up in marine and urban environments where they may be ingested by children or wildlife, contaminate fragile ecosystems, and cost local governments taxpayer dollars. Studies point to the ineffectiveness of these filters at reducing harm to smokers.

SB 1000 (Monning) Warning labels on sodas.  Would have required a soda warning label: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.”

SB 1132 (Mitchell, Leno) Fracking moratorium. Called for a moratorium on fracking and well stimulation until a Natural Resources Agency study of the effects of these processes on public health and the environment was complete and the Governor’s office had determined that specific measures were in place to ensure that there was no health risk to the public posed by these processes.

SB 1381 (Evans) GMO labeling. Would have required the labeling of genetically engineered foods to ensure “right-to-know” for California food consumers. Had been amended to remove a private right-of-action to enforce and did not apply to fresh produce in farmers’ markets or roadside produce stands.

SB 1411 (Jackson) Pesticide applications. Would have helped reduce pesticide exposure and its adverse effects among agricultural workers, children and vulnerable groups, including minority and low-income communities. Among other things, this bill would have required pesticide applicators to notify nearby residents and schools of impending pesticide applications, authorized county agricultural commissioners to enact buffer zones for entire classes of harmful pesticides around schools, and required that existing field postings regarding pesticide applications include the date and time in which people could safely re-enter fields.