Priority Bills in the California Legislature in 2018

Toxic Chemicals

AB 958 (Ting/Quirk):  This 2-year bill will require any food packaging or cookware containing perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS) to put a warning label on the product. PFASs are common in paper and other wrappings meant to prevent leakage of grease and liquids from food. They are highly toxic, being linked to cancer, low birth weight, thyroid disease and other serious health impacts, and can leach into food and beverages, and ultimately our bodies. They also migrate into water when food packaging trash ends up there, and work up the food chain. 

SB 258 (Lara):  Many cleaning products contain chemicals that are linked to serious health impacts such as cancer, respiratory illness, rashes, and reproductive harm. However, they often don’t appear on the label, preventing consumers from making the best possible choices for their families. This “Right to Know” bill will require that ingredients in cleaning products be disclosed to the public on the label and website. There are also worker safety provisions in the bill for those who are exposed to cleaning products on the job. UPDATE: SB 258 was passed into law!

AB 2998 (Bloom): This bill would ban the use of toxic flame retardant chemicals in juvenile products, mattresses, and upholstered furniture.  The State of California has found that flame retardant chemicals are not needed to provide fire safety – and in fact cause harm to human health and the environment.  They have been associated with the loss of IQ, attention problems, and other developmental problems in children, as well as cancer and death in firefighters.  They are also carried through the environment by household dust and pollute water and air.  Safer and more effective fire safety technologies exist, including physical barriers and tightly woven fabrics. In the absence of federal regulation of these dangerous chemicals, AB 2998 is needed to protect all Californians.  

Water 

Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund

California has a statewide safe drinking water crisis.

One million Californians are exposed to unsafe drinking water each year. Hundreds of small water systems are chronically out of compliance; moreover, nearly 2 million Californians utilize domestic wells, are subject to few or no testing requirements and are ineligible for most assistance programs if they find contamination. Drinking water contaminants can cause a variety of both short and long-term health effects, with children and the elderly typically at greatest risk.   

As a state, California has policies in place to make sure all Californians have access to basic utilities like energy and even telecommunications. However, California has no corresponding policy to ensure universal access to the most fundamental of necessities: safe drinking water.

The Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund (SADWF) will serve as a statewide drinking water “insurance policy” that California communities can tap into as drinking water challenges evolve in the coming years and decades. 

Senator Monning has been leading the legislative effort to pass the bill (through Senate Bill 623), and in January was joined by the Governor who committed to adding the program to the budget. The budget was passed in June without Fund language, but a portion was left open so negotiations can continue through the end of August.

Funding shall come from an increase to the existing fertilizer mill fee, a new safe drinking water fee on dairies, and a new small safe drinking water fee assessed monthly on water bills (no more than 95 cents per month). The fees cannot be increased, but can be reduced if experts agree that it is not needed.  Households with incomes less than 200% of the federal poverty level will be exempt from paying the fee.   

More than 140 organizations support the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund; please join us!  Contact your state representatives and tell them you support the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund!

Other bills: 

SB 2975 (Friedman): This bill will protect California’s Wild and Scenic Rivers from federal attacks. If the administration acts to remove a river or portion thereof from federal Wild and Scenic protection, this bill ensures that that the State steps up to protect it.   The bill is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

AB 1668/SB606 (Friedman/Skinner): This pair of bills seeks to implement the governor’s call to make water conservation a way of life, in recognition of the expected impacts of climate change on California. This would require water agencies to be more accountable to the state for their water use and water conservation measures, so this bill is generating a lot of interest.  These bills were passed and signed into law by the Governor in May.

SB 998 (Dodd): This bill places requirements on water agencies who shut off water service for non-payment of their water bill. While we agree that everyone should pay their water bill, a sudden medical emergency can create problems, while tenants are often left holding the bag when landlords fail to pay their bills. This bill requires water agencies to have a written shutoff policy that they make available to ratepayers, provides notification and translation requirements, and extends protections to tenants when landlords fail to pay water bills.  This bill is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

 

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