Wednesday, August 6, 2014

AVN's Mark Kernes Chases The #AB1576 "Crapnado"; Survives To Tell The Story

Thanks to Mark Kernes at AVN, we now have a full reading of that hearing last Monday at the California Senate Appropriations Committee on AB1576, Isadore Hall's condom mandate/"testing documentation" bill that had already passed the Cali Assembly last month. And, it was every bit worth its weight, both from the mountain of bullshit spewed by the proponents of the bill and the spirited efforts of the opposition.

For those of you not following, AB1576 was ultimately placed "in suspense" without a vote on passage following spirited testimony at that hearing; which pretty much dooms its passage unless Izzy Hall can convince four committee members to reserrect the bill and pass it before all the "in suspense" bills get dumped next week.

But, that's next week's issue....what took place last Monday, upon further review, deserves a much detailed analysis. Fortunately, Mr. Kernes was there first hand, and he delivers as usual a full accounting of all the hijinks. All references will be to his AVN article, which can be found here.

First...we have to live once again through the virtual Crapnado of Izzy Hall's sorry-ass arguments in favor of his bill...now jacked up to even higher fever pitches of stank.
"AB 1576 is a workplace safety measure that would require employer-paid mandatory STD testing on adult film actors at least every 14 days and documentation that a condom or other personal protective equipment was use in all adult films produced in California," [Hall] began, adding that three policy committees—the Assembly Arts & Entertainment and Appropriations Committees, as well as the Senate Labor Committee—had already had "extensive public debate on this bill" and "received bipartisan support."
Right...."extensive public debate", I suppose, meaning biased hearings where he was able to control the microphone and weed out any real facts; and "received bipartisan support" meaning that his benefactors over at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation were able to grease the wheels of local politicians with some of that $2 million in lobbying funds.
Hall went on to state that "Existing state and federal OSHA laws already require the use of condoms in adult films, period. In fact, existing federal OSHA law requires the use of condoms in adult films produced anywhere in the nation"—which of course begs the question of why AB 1576 is even needed.
 Yeah, really. Never mind that Hall could never produce any law anywhere other than Measure B in Los Angeles County and the ordinance in the city of Los Angeles that specifically mandates condom usage for performers. And, forget about the fact that CalOSHA is currently in the process of revamping their "bloodborne pathogen"/"barrier protection" standards in order to cover adult porn production....something that probably would not be needed if it was already the law. Existing law is currently designed strictly for occupations where direct exposure to bloodborne pathogens or internal body fluids is most likely (re: hospitals, morgues, meat processors, etc.). The CalOSHA rewrite for adult production (proposed as CCR 5193.1) is currently in the preliminary draft stages, with a draft form scheduled for release sometime this fall.
Hall also claimed that the bill has "negligible general fund impact," ignoring the fact that CalOSHA or some other state agency would need to hire several additional inspectors to make sure adult movie and internet content producers are complying with the law. However, Hall sidestepped that fact by claiming that not passing the bill would cost the state even more—over $600,000 per person, he said—for treatment of performers who contracted HIV and other STDs, further claiming that most performers don't have health insurance, even though the Affordable Care Act requires them to obtain it.
This is critical, folks, because the Cali Appropriations Committee has an iron clad threshold of $150,000 for the acceptable cost of enforcing legislation...and AB1576 is in serious danger of reaching or exceeding that threshold, even before the costs of legal action against the state and the costs of hiring enough inspectors to enforce this law. I suppose that Hall thinks that AHF will step in with the funds to hire their own "inspection" force??

On that "$600,000 per person" expense that condoms are supposed to protect the taxpayers of Cali from: you mean, Izzy, that the expense per person of people already striken with HIV/AIDS in your own district isn't nearly as much a financial drain? Especially considering that the actual expense to the state of California for HIV treatment of porn performers is....well...ZERO, since there hasn't been a single case of a straight performer contracting HIV on set since 2004, as compared to the new cases of HIV cropping up every day in LA?? And no, Izzy, contracting HIV off the set through off-the-clock private sex or IV drug needle sharing, or getting infected in a condom only shoot, does not count.

Finally, to the fact that many performers do not have effective health care insurance to cover for tragedies as such? My two word response to that: Single. Payer.
"Many California studios require condoms on the set today, and are still extremely successful and profitable," [Hall] further claimed. "In fact, as recently as May 9 of this year, one adult film director made the switch to condoms and testing after acknowledging that the only reason he didn't require condoms before was because he put profit before worker safety."

Nice try, Izzy...but, WRONG....
That director was Axel Braun, and what Braun actually said was, "Maybe the last one [HIV-positive performer] hit too close to home, since patient zero was booked on my set the day he was diagnosed, or maybe my integrity is becoming more important than my bottom line, but I have finally come to believe that our system is broken, and I’m simply trying to do what I can to fix it on my end.” Braun also adopted a policy of only allowing actors with tests less that one week old, and required that actors be at least 21 years old.
It should also be noted that Braun is also a fervent public opponent of AB1576, and stated that he was only acting for his company, not for others.

Gee...I wonder why Hall didn't also cite Tristan Taormino and Dan Leal, two producers who have also decided to go condom only + tests? Too worked up in spewing his BS??

Next up was Rand Martin representing AHF, with the usual swill:
AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Rand Martin followed Hall, claiming that "The bill does two things: Number one, it requires documentation that protective barriers were used when it was necessary to do so; number two, that an STD test was taken no more than 14 days before a scene was filmed. That is all the bill does." He also claimed that since he had worked with CalOSHA to "align the bill" with the agency's existing regulations, that no additional costs would be incurred—except, of course, for the additional inspectors, which Martin did not mention.
And then the stank really hit the eyewall...
Cameron Bay and her boyfriend Rod Daily also spoke, with the former actress dropping her claim that she had contracted her HIV on an adult set, but claimed today that "Adult producers know ... that they could take advantage of workers like myself. They know the high turnover rate for workers like me and they know that they're breaking the law when they deny a worker like me the cheapest workplace barrier protection in existence, which is a condom. And they do all that because they don't have to pay for the treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. You, the citizens of California, have to pay. While the producers laugh their way to the bank, you're left with the bill: over half a million dollars in medication just for a single HIV infection like myself."
That's kind of interesting, Cam...you mean that you weren't given the option after you bit too hard into Xander Corvus' schlong to wear a condom to finish? In a scene where no one else was infected, and has tested negative since? And, that those "4 cent" condoms really are more effective than stingent testing? And, that the people of California (and by extension, the USA) shouldn't have to pay one red cent to treat HIV+ people? And, how exactly do you "break the law", Ms. Bay, by having bareback sex where no one is infected??? If condoms are that effective, shouldn't they be mandated for everyone engaging in sex, not just people making porn??

Oh, wait..this isn't about prevention; it;s about "mentoring" and selling the beauty of "safer sex". And.....well placed condom ads that could make AHF more $$$$. Never mind....
But while Bay claimed that "AB 1576 insures women like me are protected from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections," her boyfriend Rod Daily began his testimony by saying, "During my time as a performer, I only wore condoms in all of my scenes. Because of these, I was protected from STDs on set." So either Daily didn't contract his disease on an adult set, or the condoms didn't protect him—neither of which argues for the passage of AB 1576.
Or...I guess he must have meant "my time as a gay performer", where condoms are mandatory due to direct potential interaction with HIV+ performers, and the lack of the kind of stringent testing the "straight" porn industry maintains. So, I guess mandating condoms in porn doesn't protect you very well off-the-clock.

The only other proponent of note was Adam Cohen of the UCLA Reproductive Health Interest Group, who has been one of the main colluding groups between CalOSHA and AHF in the condom mandate campaign. Michael Whiteacre has already debunked his nonsense here.

As bad as that portion of the testimony was, it didn't compare to the good that was the opponents' response. To put it bluntly, they were armed, locked, and loaded....and their arguments did much to disenfect the air.

First up, performer Lorelei Lee, who happened to be the third performer in that Cameron Bay/Xander Corvus scene at Kink.com (and whom is also HIV-, and always has been).

When de Leon asked for speakers in opposition to the bill, Lorelei Lee stepped forward, bringing with her a petition signed by "over 650 adult performers" opposing the bill, out of the 1,000 to 1,200 active performers in the industry, "so there can be no quesiton that the majority of performers oppose this bill." She also noted that the committee had received letters from members of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee, the industry's only all-talent group, which also oppose the bill.
"I want to make clear that the author of this bill does not speak for performers," Lee said. "The sponsors of this bill do not speak for performers. They have not worked with us, they have not reached to us, and no one cares more than we do about our health and safety."
"This bill would seriously degrade the health and safety protocols that we already have in place and that we have been working to improve over the last decade," she added. "I want to emphasize that we would not work in this industry if we did not believe that our protocols have kept us safe. Under our current protocols, we have not had a single on-set transmission of HIV in over a decadel. ... Performers who have tested positive in the last decade have done so after an exposure in their private lives and our mandatory test-and-stop protocols have prevented any on-set transmissions from occurring."
She also expressed concern about performers' medical information being shared with CalOSHA, noting that "Forced consent is not consent. This is a privacy violation and we do not consent to it."
She observed that "legislative condom mandates do not lead to more condom use in adult films," noting that after Measure B was passed, many productions moved out of the jurisdiction, "taking thousands of California jobs with them," including not only performers but the myriad technicians that work behind the scenes. She also noted that many productions that can't afford to move have gone underground.
"When our jobs become illegal, our employers have even less accountability, and both the stigmas and the on-set dangers that we face rise exponentially," she concluded. "Our voice and our concerns should be more important than bills that a politician is simply trying to pass a bill."
Next up...adult industry attorney Karen Tynan:
Attorney Karen Tynan next took the microphone, claiming that, "Let me be clear: AB 1576 is costly to the state, far beyond the suspense threshhold. It undermines efforts to implement a complete and effective worker safety plan." She added that the industry had spent years working with medical professionals and experts to devise the industry's current testing protocols, which she said are "more comprehensive than AB 1576, and we have the support of the workers, the performers themselves."
She reminded the committee that CalOSHA is working on its own set of regulations, and called AB 1576 "an assault on that process."
"We believe this bill will also cost money with the California Department of Public Health," she stated. "The recommendations will require the development of a list of recommended HIV tests and it's impossible to believe that this will not require additional costs to the state. This would have to be a public and inclusive process so that the Department of Public Health can understand the nuances of this industry and could listen to performers and primary care physicians," noting that such costs would require Public Health to "divert resources from more pressing matters."
She concluded by noting that six Bay Area production companies had already moved to Nevada, as well as a "San Fernando-based adult film company with $30 million in revenue transferred their entire operations out of state."
And, as if that wasn't enough to convince the legislators, a new witness emerged with a decisive new argument against the bill:
The final speaker in opposition to the bill was a new one: Aaron Fox of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, who noted that his organization was one of the ones that had sent an opposition letter to the committee last week, with the other two being Project Inform of San Francisco and AIDS Project Los Angeles (which de Leon made sure to note was a different organization from the bill's sponsor, AIDS Healthcare Foundation).

"Mandatory state-mandated HIV testing has never been something that this legislature has been in favor of except one time in its history, which was in 1996, when a boxer tested positive for HIV and the legislature passed a law that professional boxers and martial artists must be tested for HIV before they can compete in the ring," he stated. "We believe that any way of expanding state-mandated HIV testing violates privacy rights, stigmatizes people with HIV and is not something that's in congruence with all of the HIV testing laws in California that not only require consent but also require people to have the right to decline an HIV test. There's nothing in this legislation that allows people the right to decline an HIV test and that has been something the California legislature has always supported throughout its history."
Keep in mind that the protocols used by PASS are enforced through peer pressure and the honor system of production companies not hiring performers who test positive for HIV or other STI's, not through any government intervention. Since AB1576 would require documentation for testing for HIV or condom usage by a public board, it would effectively violate both antidiscrimination laws against HIV+ persons in employment, AND direct consent for mandatory HIV testing. If that segment is rendered unconstitutional by a later court action, and all that remains is the condom requirement, then the risks to performers would be elevated to a magnitude, since there would be no effective means in which a performer could know if her on-screen partner was infected prior to that scene. And, if the condom broke....

The backup support was there in droves as well, too:
At that point, de Leon called for those in the audience who oppose the bill to step forward and state their opposition—and more than 30 did, including performers Anna Cherry, Mia Coleman, Veruca James (who's also the recently elected treasurer of APAC), Jiz Lee, Mick Blue, Anikka Albrite, Aiden Starr, Ariel X, Lea Lexis, Maitresse Madeline, Owen Gray and Mickey Mod, as well as FSC CEO Diane Duke and Michael Chate of MindGeek.
Based on all that, you'd think that Izzy Hall would reel in the rhetoric in his final push for his bill before the committee. You would be wrong.

None of the committee members had questions or comments, but de Leon gave Hall the last word, though, and he didn't disappoint.
"I know this is not a sexy bill," he began. "We're talking about protecting the lives of those without a voice," apparently ignoring the "voice" of the 650-plus petitions presented to the committee earlier.

"These individuals who have come forward today deserve a badge of honor for the courage that they have to come back and forth to Sacramento for the last several months testifying in front of members of the legislature both on Senate and the Assembly side, talking about how they were impacted on their places of employment," he stated, apparently referring to Bay and Daily rather than the dozens of other performers who have attended those same hearings, "where they contracted a disease that will affect their lives for the rest of their lives," Hall added, implying that Bay and Daily contracted their HIV on-set, which implication has been shown to be untrue.
"For the record, Mr. Chair, this bill does not mandate testing," Hall lied. "This bill mandates documentation of testing, and there is a big difference. This bill does not mandate testing; this bill mandates the documentation of testing, and the question as I close is, Mr. Chair and members, is how many lives must be taken for profit? How many people must come up here each and every week or every other week and talk about how their lives and families' lives and many others are drastically impacted by going to work, performing a job, not receiving a reasonable level of protection afforded other employees, and as a result, now their lives have been turned upside down, their families and all of their associates?"
The answer to that question appears to be just Cameron Bay and Rod Daily, neither of whom caught their HIV on an adult set, while more than 650 other performers signed petitions and wrote letters against the bill's passage.
So, to review and condense Isadore Hall's case: Two performers with questionable histories are more truthful than over 650 performers with solid records of protecting themselves without his or AHF's help; we absolutely must save those performers who can't save themselves with protections from HIV and STI's, and only 4-cent condoms are the proven means to do that; only an organization with well over $250 million in revenue is capable of fighting against the Evil Porn Profiteers who infect their "employees" with impunity, then go on to infect the general population; and, requiring documentation of testing is not the same as actually requiring testing...even though if you don't test, you get punished just the same. Hurry up and pass this bill before our opportunity to make money off condom placement ads goes past.....errrrrrr, before another performer gets killed by AIDS!!

I guess that we will all see by next week, if not by August 15th, whether his lunacy and AHF's money tree are able to overcome actual logic and truth. At least, for this year.

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