California State Assembly bill to cut back on Proposition 65 cases receives support

By S. Laney Griffo | May 29, 2017

A California State Assembly member is confident his bill to cut back on Proposition 65 cases will pass now that he has amended the bill.

SACRAMENTO — A California State Assembly member is confident his bill to cut back on Proposition 65 cases will pass now that he has amended the bill.

Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) introduced the bill after seeing an increase of Proposition 65 cases.

Proposition 65, known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, requires California businesses to issue a clear warning before exposing individuals to toxins.

Individuals may bring cases against businesses but must provide a certificate of merit to the attorney general’s office. Chau said he often found that small business owners have been hurt the most by these types of cases.

“We decided to look into the issue a little bit more and wanted to resolve or at least try to tackle the problem because often times a number of unscrupulous lawyers are taking advantage of the fact that these small business owners have no money to defend, so they have to settle these lawsuits early on,” Chau told the Northern California Record.

The current law says the basis for the certification is not discoverable, meaning defendants in the case don’t know why the case was brought against them and can’t address the issues on their own.

Chau’s amendments to the bill would make all information relevant to the case discoverable early in the case.

“In that regard, we are allowing a level playing field,” Chau said.

Chau also made amendments to provide education to small business owners about what Proposition 65 requires of them. The amendment would require the governor’s Office of Economic Development to post information about the proposition on its website.

Chau said the ideas for these amendments came from his conversations with stakeholders.

“There is not registered opposition, by the way," Chau said. "Everyone is in support of it because we started out by talking to a lot stakeholders including the attorneys, the small business owners and the Cal Chamber also made some very useful suggestions as well.”

The Center for Environmental Health, the Environmental Working Group and Clean Water Action originally opposed the bills, but Chau said they removed their opposition because of the collaborative efforts his team has made.

The bill is currently before the assembly's appropriation committee waiting to be reviewed.  

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