October 22, 2014

Victory in Sacramento for right-to- know about chemical hazards in the workplace!

On September 30, the 2014 legislative year came to a close in Sacramento.  Governor Brown signed into law several important bills that San Francisco Bay Area PSR supported, including SB 193 (Monning) which supports the right-to- know about chemical hazards in the workplace.

SB 193 requires chemical manufacturers and others in the distribution chain to provide, upon written request from the state Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service (HESIS), the names and addresses of employers who purchased specific toxic chemicals or commercial products that pose new or previously unrecognized occupational health hazards. This ensures that HESIS can more effectively notify purchasing employers and that workers’ health can be better protected.

SF Bay Area PSR Board member Julia Quint, PhD, former chief of HESIS, worked tirelessly with other advocates and legislative offices for a decade to help craft and support the passage of this critical bill. Its approval by the Governor constitutes a major win for all of California’s workers as well as HESIS and other state agencies charged with protecting the public’s health, but often not given the tools they need to do so.

The governor also signed other bills SF Bay area PSR supported such as SB 1019 (Leno) which ensures the right-to- know about chemical flame retardants in upholstered furniture, and SB 1014 (Skinner) which provides new legal tools for temporarily restricting the possession of firearms by individuals who pose a serious danger to themselves or others.

Status of bills by issue area:

Reduce gun violence:
AB 1014 (Skinner) Gun violence restraining order. This bill responds to tragic situations such as at Isla Vista where parents saw signs that their son was at great risk of seriously harming others or himself, but had no legal recourse to try to prevent his deadly rampage. This bill provides families and law enforcement with new legal tools for temporarily restricting the possession of firearms for individuals who pose a serious danger to themselves or others to possess firearms. Status: Signed by the Governor.

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 would require 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. Status: Signed by the Governor.

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 will eliminate the “single shot” exemption to purchasing an “unsafe handgun.”  AB 1964 will ensure that handguns purchased through a dealer are handguns which meet all safety and firing tests and contain all state required handgun safety features. Status:  Signed by the Governor.

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. SB 53 will regulate sellers of ammunition and require purchasers of ammunition to undergo a background check. Status: Failed in Assembly.

SB 580 (Jackson) Funding for law enforcement. This bill calls for funding to ensure that law enforcement agencies take guns away from those who currently illegally possess them and to improve the Department of Justice’s aging data systems used to register gun ownership and monitor illegal possession of firearms. Status: Held in Assembly appropriations. Author may seek passage through the budget process.

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 would 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. Status: Vetoed by the governor.

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. Status: Failed on Senate floor.

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. Status: Pulled by author due to last minute irreconcilable opposition.

SB 1204 (Lara) Creating cleaner air. 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. Status: Signed by the Governor.

SB 1371 (Leno) Statewide pipeline repair. Calls for the development and implementation of a plan to repair and prevent leakage of gas pipelines in California. Status: Signed by the Governor.

Environmental Health:
SB 193 (Monning) Agency authority to protect worker health. Would require 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. Status: Signed by the Governor.

SB 1405 (deSaulnier) Pesticides in schools.  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. Status: Signed by the Governor.

Environmental Justice:
SB 812 (De Leon)
Hazardous Waste. The bill increases transparency and accountability at the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) in order to protect the health, environment, and well being of California communities by calling for disclosure requirements for hazardous waste permits, violations, and corrective actions as well as other measures to ensure that DTSC fulfills its obligations to protect the public from toxic chemicals, especially as it relates to its hazardous waste management permitting system. Status: Vetoed by the Governor.

Social justice:
SB 935 (Leno) Raise minimum wage. Raises the minimum wage over the next three years to $13.00 per hour and thereafter require automatic adjustments for inflation. Status: Failed in Assembly Labor and Employment Committee.

SB 1167 (Hueso) Obligations regarding habitability. Requires landlords to fix or abate conditions that create rodent infestations. Status: Signed by the Governor.

Right to know:
SB 1019 (Leno) Flame retardant labeling. This bill would require 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 would be given authority to cite and penalize anyone who misrepresents whether a piece of upholstered furniture contains any of these dangerous chemicals.  Bill amended to no longer require signs at retail stores. Status: Signed by the Governor.

SB 52 (Leno) Campaign disclosures. Requires the three largest individual funders of $50,000 or more of ballot measure ads to be clearly identified (two largest for radio ads), so voters know who is actually paying for them.  Status: Failed in Assembly.

Antimicrobial stewardship:
SB 1311 (Hill)
Antimicrobial stewardship program. Strengthens current law to require that each general acute care hospital in California have an antimicrobial stewardship program and that it meets certain standards established by government and professional organizations. Status: Signed by the Governor.