AB 1576 Passes Appropriations Committee

Lila Gray

SACRAMENTO — AB 1576, a bill that would mandate condom use on all adult productions shot in California, has passed the state Appropriations Committee 9-3, which heard the bill this morning.

Today’s debate, running more than an hour, echoed previous hearings, with particular emphasis on the proposal’s economic viability.

The committee, which is tasked to allocate annual funds to state government agencies, was given a report this morning that estimated a special fund costs of up to $150,000 to the OSHA Standards Board for additional rulemaking for AB 1576.

However, adult industry attorney Karen Tynan, who spoke for the opposition, began her argument by declaring that “the cost of this bill is drastically undercalculated,” pointing to the high price tag of drafting new protocols and regulations, as well as the proposal to keep logs of performer’s tests, unforeseen legal costs and more.

HIV-positive former performer Cameron Bay delivered a pathos-suffused tesimony on behalf of the bill, and offered her own succinct fiscal assessment.

“You and the citizens of California are paying for my HIV medication, while producers laugh their way to the bank,” she said. “Condoms cost 4 cents. HIV medications cost half a million dollars.”

A new buzz phrase tossed around at the hearing was the notion of “forced consent,” that was apparently included in the bill’s most recent reincarnation.

Although the definition and interpretation of the phrase was hotly contested between both sides, the adult industry interpreted it as meaning that they would be essentially be forced to release their medical records to state officials, an encroachment on their right to privacy.   

“I don’t know what that means and how that can exist, but in what other industry would we accept forced consent as a concept?” an attorney from Mind Geek asked.

Assemblymember Tim Donnelly expressed doubt about the legality of “forced consent,” adding that he had “concerns about the idea of the government being this deeply involved in people’s private business.”

"Forced consent is not consent," Tynan concluded. "And the forced consent language is in violation of other health and safety codes and flies in the face of our California constitutional protections for privacy."

Performer/director/producer Lorelei Lee also spoke at length in poignant opposition to the bill. Aside from providing a comprehensive performer's perspective, Lee touched on the sluggishness endemic to government bodies. 

"Beacause our testing protocols are developed by performers and are run by performer groups [with medical input], we can react very quickly to changes in technology and constantly be using the most advanced testing," Lee said. "I don’t think a government agency is able to react as quickly as we are."

Assemblymember Steven Bradford tapped into a similar concern later in the hearing when he referenced a recent Cal/OSHA report that stated it has only two safety inspectors for all California airports. “How are they then going to inspect thousands of sets?” he asked.

Supporters and opponents showed up in such strong numbers that many of those who wished to give testimony were cut off mid-speech.

“Your voice can be heard as long as your voice is brief,” Assembly chair Mike Gatto told a performer who insisted on being allowed to speak.

Many other industry members attended the hearing to voice their dissent, including Diane Duke, Mo Reese, Amber Chase, Ariel X, Shine Louise Houston, Jiz Lee and Emma Claire.

Former adult industry performers Bay and Rod Daily, who tested positive for HIV last year, spoke on behalf of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, along with AHF lobbyist Rand Martin. 

The bill will now head to the full California Assembly for consideration.