August 26, 2014

There has been a flurry of activity in the state Capitol in the final stretches of the 2014 legislative year.

San Francisco Bay Area PSR has been busy weighing in on state policy measures to stop climate change, reduce gun violence and otherwise protect human health and the environment. We supported a total of 23 bills and opposed one. (Some had already failed at the time of our June ENews and so are not reported on here again.)

So far, two common-sense bills have been signed by the Governor: AB 1964 (Dickinson) focuses on single shot pistols and will ensure that all handguns purchased through a dealer meet all safety and firing tests. SB 1167 (Hueso) requires landlords to fix conditions that create rodent infestations. Other bills are awaiting a vote in an appropriations committee or are already poised to be considered on the Assembly or Senate floor.

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 they had no legal recourse to try to prevent his subsequent deadly rampage. 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. Status: Senate floor.

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 a firearm acquired from outside the state to have it delivered to a licensed dealer in this state and be subject to the same requirements. Status: Senate floor.

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. 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. Status: Assembly floor.

SB 580 (Jackson) Firearms: prohibited persons. 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: Assembly Appropriations.

SB 808 (DeLeon) Firearms: identifying information. This bill responds to several issues related to gun manufacture. For instance, it is now possible 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: Assembly floor.

Environmental Health
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 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. May be reconsidered.

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: No longer active; 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: Assembly floor.

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: Assembly floor.

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: Passed Assembly. Back to Senate to pass amended version.

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: Assembly floor.

Environmental Justice
SB 812 (De Leon) 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. The bill calls for disclosure requirements regarding 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: Assembly floor.

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: Assembly floor.

SB 52 (Leno) 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: Assembly floor.

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: On Governor’s desk.