Brownley Bag Ban Faced Formidable Last-Minute Campaign Contributions

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, expressed disappointment today in the Senate’s rejection of her bill to ban single-use carryout bags in California supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores.
AB 1998 failed passage on a 14-21 vote.  

The Sacramento Bee's Susan Ferris reported last minute campaign contributions ahead of Tuesday's vote to moderate Democrats and to Senate Republicans from the Virginia-based American Chemistry Council representing bag manufacturers, as well as Exxon and Poly Hilex, helped seal the bill's fate.  

CFC's November Ballot Recs: Corporate Interests vs. The Public Good

By Zack Kaldveer
Consumer Federation of California

The June defeat of Propositions 16 and 17 was welcomed news for Californians fed up with the use of the initiative process to advance narrow corporate interests. The lavish spending by PG&E ($46 million on Prop 16) and Mercury Insurance ($17 million on Prop 17) to increase their bottom lines at the public's expense only confirmed voters’ suspicions that greed was the real motivating factor behind those measures. Despite PG&E outspending opponents 575 to 1, and Mercury Insurance its opposition 12 to 1, a slim majority of voters saw through the pitch these snake oil salesmen were making, rejecting each by a margin of 4 to 5 points.

Unfortunately for California, June's election results have not served as the deterrent  some may have hoped. November brings a new crop of initiatives bankrolled by  some of our nation's most notorious polluters and corporate bad actors. Similarly, initiatives placed on the ballot to benefit the public will face the typical wall of opposition from big business interests willing to spend tens of millions of dollars on slick and deceptive campaigns with a singular purpose: mislead the voters.

Floor Vote On Brownley Bag Ban Expected Monday

By Dan Aiello 
California Progress Report

In what may turn out to be this year's most memorable legislative fight in Sacramento, Assembly Bill 1998, the single-use plastic bag ban introduced by Democrat Julia Brownley of Santa Monica, is scheduled for a Senate floor vote Monday, just one day before the legislature wraps up.

If a legislator managed to miss the television ads placed on every Sacramento station by the bill's opponents, a coalition led by the American Chemistry Council representing plastic bag manufacturers, there was no missing the giant blow-up turtle exhibited on the West Steps of the Capitol Friday, part of the bill sponsor, Heal the Bay's, last minute efforts to garner the two-thirds Senate vote required to pass the legislation.

American Chemistry Council V. Public Health And Our Environment

By Traci Sheehan
Planning and Conservation League

Two long sought after bills are nearing the finish line in the legislature before heading to the Governor's desk. These policies could be huge victories for both public health and the environment, but both face intense lobbying from the American Chemistry Council.

Senate Bill 797 (Pavley) bans from children's products the toxic chemical BPA (bisphenol A), which is suspected of wrecking havoc with hormone levels and causing a host of problems including impaired brain development, breast and prostate cancers and early puberty.

This common sense policy was stopped twice before in the Assembly by intense lobbying from the chemical industry, but finally passed in July. Now the chemical lobby has ramped up efforts in the Senate to prevent the bill from making it over this final legislative hurdle.

Good And Bad Budget Reforms On The Ballot

By Traci Sheehan
Planning and Conservation League

With everyone's focus turned to last minute bills trying to make their way off the legislature floor before the end of the August, certain issues on this November's ballot have not garnered the attention they deserve and need. Both Propositions 25 and 26 circulate around the controversial 2/3s vote requirements to pass the state budget or increase revenues, but in very different ways. And both directly affect our ability to protect our environment and the health of all Californians.

The Planning and Conservation League is in support of Prop 25 - the Majority Budget Initiative and is opposing Prop 26 - the Polluter Protection Initiative.

New Study Asks: Is Your Home Trying to Kill You?

By Ngoc Nguyen

A new study that measures levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in homes in two San Francisco Bay Area cities – Richmond and Bolinas – found similar levels of the chemicals in both settings. These results indicate that exposure to the compounds is widespread.

The health impacts of endocrine disruptors, which mimic naturally occurring human hormones, are still being studied. But concern is mounting that these chemicals could be partly to blame for aberrations in child development, including early puberty and breast development in girls as young as 7 or 8.

Forget the Lemon – I Want Some Lead in My Water

By Wilma Chan

One of the most critical functions of government is to protect our health from hidden dangers in our homes, schools, and workplaces.  In particular, we rely upon our government to protect us from dangers that we, as individuals, are powerless to address.  Major milestones in the field of public health improvements in the last century include vanquishing threats like botulism, smallpox, and polio, as well as protecting people and the environment by tackling chemical contamination left over from decades of unregulated dumping of hazardous wastes.  Today, we face another urgent call for our government to step in and protect future generations from a serious health threat that lurks in schools and homes.      

Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals Needed to Protect Workers and Communities

By Holly Brown-Williams

All kinds of consumer goods, from children’s sleepwear and toys to cosmetics, cleaning products and food, contain toxic chemicals that endanger our health and the environment. Over 85,000 industrial chemicals are on the US market today and 2,000 new ones are introduced each year — without any assurance of their safety. Government agencies must prove that chemicals cause harm before taking action to protect health.

As UC Berkeley researcher Michael Wilson said in testimony August 3 before the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, “Some chemicals are known to contribute directly to both acute and chronic health problems. Many other are suspected to play a role, but the potential health and environmental effects for the great majority are unknown.”

Schwarzenegger's MLPA Initiative: A Question of Bad Public Policy

By Dan Bacher

Proponents of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative constantly gush in generic terms how the controversial process is "open, transparent and inclusive." Anybody who criticizes any aspect of the privately funded initiative is blasted for being against "ocean protection."

However, what many critics of the MLPA Initiative are actually opposed to is the parody of marine protection that Schwarzenegger's initiative has become. Many supporters of comprehensive ocean protection point out that the intent of the law, signed by Governor Gray Davis in 1999, has been continually violated under a privately funded process filled with numerous conflicts of interest and violations of state, federal and international laws.

Legislative Analyst Says Prop 26 Increases Budget Deficit By $1 Billion

By Artem Raskin
California Progress Report

If approved by voters in November, Proposition 26 will put a billion dollar dent in the state budget, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO).

The LAO’s nonpartisan analysis released last week revealed that Proposition 26 would nullify the “Gas Tax Swap” approved by the legislature in March, and eliminate about one billion dollars annually in anticipated revenues to the general fund for schools and other programs.