Wednesday, May 8, 2013

AB332 Gets The BAHLOCK Dropped On It By California Assembly Appropriations Committee; Placed "In Suspension" Until Further Notice (Updated)

Scroll to bottom for updated information.

Well...funny how things turn on a dime.

Last week, it seemed that AB332 was on a smooth path to victory once it passed the California Assembly's Health and Labor Subcommittee.

After today, when it was scheduled to face the more powerful Appropriations Committee?  Not so much.

AB 332 Stalls in Appropriations Committee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Assembly Bill 332 stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday after the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Isadore Hall (D-Compton), waived the opportunity to speak about the legislation.

Karen Tynan, the attorney representing adult industry opposition to AB 332 was not able to deliver her statement regarding the potential economic repercussions of the bill, as well as its intrusion into Cal/OSHA’s affairs.

“My testimony was meant to explain and emphasize the incredible waste of taxpayer money that will result if AB 332 is enacted,” Tynan said. “Cal/OSHA has a process where they have stakeholder meetings and attempt to create feasible regulations. We are still in that process with the draft regulations pending revisions. AB 332 demands that the state legislature throw out all that work and start over with the AHF plan.”

“Committee members with adult entertainment businesses in their districts should be reminded that these businesses create jobs, pay taxes, and should have a voice in this process,” Tynan added.

Other industry performers and professionals attended the hearing, including Peter Acworth, Kink.com founder and Free Speech Coalition board member. Acworth was not able to deliver the testimony he prepared.

“We got here at 5:30 a.m. and spent most of the day,” Acworth said. “But we’re happy the bill has been put in suspension. I hope this is the end of the bill. I remain a strong advocate for performer testing and the APHSS.org database system.”

Representatives from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation were not present at the meeting, the FSC reported on its blog.

AB 332 was introduced by Hall in February and mirrors Measure B, which makes condoms mandatory for porn shoots in Los Angeles County.

Apparently, the main stumbling block was, strangely enough, money....as in, the potential costs to the state for enforcing AB332's condom mandate statewide. Quoting Mark Kernes of AVN:
The fact that the bill was not heard today means that it goes "on suspense," meaning that the Appropriations Committee can take it up at a later date, which according to an Appropriations Committee employee will likely be May 24.

"The committee takes up bills on suspense after it has heard all the other bills on the agenda," he explained.

However, if the bill is not taken up on that date, it is unclear whether it can be held over for the following year's legislative session.

"Clearly, [AB 332 sponsor Isadore] Hall didn't have the votes today, because the bill would cost the state at least $150,000," Tynan assessed, "so bills with that much of a fiscal impact, if they're not considered right away, go on suspense, and it's my impression that the bill has lost momentum, I understand."

And where did that $150,000 figure come from?

"That's the figure the Appropriations Committee had," Tynan stated. "That's the figure that the Appropriations Committee evaluated that the bill would cost—a minimum of what the bill would cost the state."

Indeed; for a government agency or an outside contractor to put together a task force and then attempt to track down adult filming locations everywhere in the state would likely cost far more than $150,000. 

By comparison, Los Angeles County Health Department head Dr. Jonathan Fielding has estimated that just to set up such a task force within his own department and hire investigators to enforce compliance with LA County Measure B would cost, for the first two years of operation, more than $580,000, though some of that cost would supposedly be offset by the cost of the public health permits adult producers would be required to buy.
Given California's revenue troubles, that would probably raise too much of a red flag for even those supportive of Hall's bill....so he basically punted for now.

So, the next date to mark down will be May 24th, when all of the "on suspense"/"suspension" bills are taken up by the Appropriations Committee. I'm guessing that AHF and Hall are already on the phones, lobbying their forces.

If the bill is not passed on to the full Assembly by then, it's essentially dead for this year, and probably for the next fiscal year as well. Still, not a good idea to let guards down, since AHF's money still has some juice in Sacramento. Updates as warranted, of course.

UPDATE:

Seems like the BAH-LOCK dropped on AB 332 may be a bit more permanent than I even expected. This was just posted at TheSword.com, a gay porn blog (Caution: Link NSFW; bolded emphasis added by me):

Kink.com CEO Peter Acworth joined other San Francisco studio reps and performers along with attorney Karen Tynan in Sacramento today to testify against AB 332, but it turns out they didn’t need to. The bill to mandate condoms in California porn has failed.

After passing the Labor Committee last month, the bill was put before the Appropriations Committee today where it was soundly rejected (committee members having recognized there is no state money to fund it). In fact, the committee didn’t even hold a formal vote on AB 332 since its sponsor, committee member Isadore Hall, likely knew there wouldn’t be enough votes for it to pass.

“Hall didn’t have the votes,” attorney Karen Tynan tells The Sword. “So, there was no vote, and the bill is now considered ‘on suspense,’ or in other words, in limbo. None of our San Francisco contingents needed to testify against the bill, and no one from (sponsor) AHF even showed up to testify in favor of the bill, probably because they knew they didn’t have the votes.”

While the statewide bill to force porn studios to use condoms in their productions is now considered dead, this doesn’t solve the ongoing drama between porn studios and LA County over AHF’s other condom law, Measure B, which mandates condom use in porn shot in Los Angeles.

Tynan and reps from San Francisco-based studios plan to continue their outreach to California legislators about the potential financial impact of AB 332—on both the industry and the state economy—to ensure that similar bills aren’t brought to committee in the future.
Keep in mind, however, that AB 332 was thought to have been killed by the Health and Labor Subcommittee earlier when the first vote there didn't get enough votes to pass...but that was reversed later that day when some abstainers switched their votes in favor of the bill to pass on. Never underestimate the power of AHF's bank.

Though, if The Sword's account is verified, the industry may have dodged another nuke. At least, for now.

 

5 comments:

  1. Funny, I had a feeling this would happen, much as it did with the Leslie bill back in 2004. Grandstanding measures that obligate the state to spend undetermined amounts of taxpayer money for no reasonable return have a way of expiring in committee. This one could get out to a floor vote if AHF can figure out some kind of backhanded maneuver to short-circuit the process, but I suspect that will prove a bridge to far even for them.

    Sacramento plays by its own rules and has its own influential constituents to please. I doubt Michael Weinstein is on their radar as anything but a minor nuisance. He can try bullying these guys and undoubtedly will, but I don't expect them to be terribly impressed.

    I'm not counting any chickens yet, but AB 332 seems pretty likely to fall off the legislative calendar.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lots of the usual loudmouths - Rob Black, Mike South, and a new addition to the list - Gene Ross - all have said that Diane Duke blew it because this bill was sure to pass.

    Does she get any credit if AB332 dies for good?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I still have memories of people saying that AB332 was dead when it originally was voted on in the Health/Labor Subcommittee..and then AHF applied their patented juice to get it passed.

    Two weeks is a long time in politics, and I'm sure that Weinstein and Hall are already working the phones and dishing out the cash to get this passed.

    I wish I could be as confident as you, Ernest...but I still have that feeling. Better to assemble the troops for this upcoming Friday and make sure this bill is killed.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nothing is a given, but I think the political realities of Sacramento are very different from those of Los Angeles and I doubt Weinstein, with his Hindenberg-size ego, gets it that he's not big news up there.

    We'll see, and there's never a wise moment for complacency, but with the lousy job the industry's representatives have done so far on this whole issue, I think we might be better off if the troops stayed in their barracks. To date, they've sucked on the field.

    Let me make it clear that I am not now and will never be in the same camp as Mike South, Rob Black or Gene Ross, whose combined I.Q.s if converted to gunpowder wouldn't blow up a thimble, but like stopped clocks, they are occasionally and briefly right. The Measure B counter-campaign was a disgrace.

    However, the one place where the F.S.C. has been effective in the past is Sacramento, mainly because it's a long way from here and it's possible to have conversations in private, which is where our charisma-free spokespeople do their best work.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks, Ernest. I never thought you were in with those Three Stooges.

    ReplyDelete