SACRAMENTO - In an election and Olympic year it's not
surprising that nationalism and even a strong sense of state identity are sweeping the nation.
But a legislative proposal that initially enjoyed broad support in the state assembly - and enjoyed an all-American nickname - has vanished from the agendas of lawmakers with no explanation.
Assembly Bill 2827 was dubbed the "Made
in the U.S.A." and "Made in California" bill that was structured based upon existing federal laws and regulations.
AB 2827 was introduced to the state assembly in February
by Rep. Marc Levine (D-10th District) and quickly led to a lot of discussion by both supporters and opponents. Before even getting a vote on the assembly floor, though, the bill was pulled in July and
replaced with another measure dealing with mental health programs.
Was AB 2827 pulled due an impending defeat and lack of popularity? Election-year positioning? Other outside interests?
Time may tell, but Levine's office did
not respond to several interview requests.
Existing law prohibits the sale of any merchandise that
displays the words "Made in the U.S.A.," "Made in America,"
or similar words when the merchandise or any article, unit or part thereof, has
been entirely or substantially made, manufactured or produced outside of the
What AB 2827 and bill sponsor Levine also aimed to do was
to provide companies with a right to cure period, that included giving the
violating party 33 days to come into compliance after receiving written
notification from the state.
This included infractions for both "Made in
California" and "Made in the U.S.A." or "Made in America"
This was a major sticking point for opponents of the bill, including from
an industry that would seem unrelated to the legislation.
"We opposed the bill because it posed both immediate
and long-term threats to animals and to consumers who might seek to protect
animals," said Jeffrey Pierce, legislative counsel for the
California-based Animal Legal Defense Fund. "I think (Levine)'s ambition
was to protect small businesses who could not afford a lawyer but very few laws
directly benefit animals. There is a lot of false advertising in the egg
industry, and that is what we represent."
The Animal Legal Defense Fund was largely against AB 2827
because producers could hypothetically operate against production laws for 30
days without any repercussions. They point to a case in 2007 when
pets died after consuming adulterated products containing ingredients imported
from China, leading many pet owners to change their purchasing habits to pet
food made in the U.S.A.
The group also was worried about the mistreatment of
animals during the breeding process, and that the bill had no legal or
regulatory authority to immediately stop out-of-compliance producers,
especially in the egg industry.
To Pierce and the Animal Legal Defense Fund,
the 33-day wait period is in direct contradiction of the federal Endangered
Species Act that immediately and enforces compliance.
"It gives producers less incentive to do right and
gives them a lack of accountability," said Pierce. "Studies show that
consumers are willing to spend more money on products when they know the animal
has been treated properly."
The Animal Legal Defense Fund was not the only opposition
of AB 2827, they were joined by the Consumer Federation of California,
California Conference of Machinists and several other labor unions.
Support for AB 2827 was wide-ranging, including from the California Chamber of Commerce, California Manufacturers and Technology
Association, California Retailers Association and California Small Business
"The California Chamber of Commerce is pleased to
support AB 2827, which has been labeled as a job creator, as it will provide
businesses with a limited time period in which to resolve alleged labeling
violations without facing devastating litigation," Jennifer Barrera,
policy advocate for the California Chamber of Commerce, wrote in an April
letter. "This financial threat of litigation has created an opportunity
for attorneys to leverage businesses into quick monetary settlements for
alleged misrepresentations on labels of goods that represent 'Made in the
U.S.A.' or 'Made in California' or even a specific location in
The California Chamber of Commerce acknowledged there are examples of companies misrepresenting where a product was produced,
but also pointed out numerous examples where all or the majority of all
ingredients, components or parts of the product were sourced from the proper
geographical location and the threat of litigation was still leveraged against