AB 1576 Moves to the 'Suspense File'

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — AB 1576, the California bill that requires a minimum 14-day testing protocol and use of a condom or barrier device in the production of adult films, has been moved to the "suspense file" by the state Senate Appropriations committee.

The committee, which did not vote on the bill, will meet Thursday, Aug. 14, to decide whether the piece of legislation is approved or nixed.

The bill, among more than 250 bills slated to be heard on Monday by the Appropriations committee, was heard five hours into the session.

Sens. Kevin de León, Mimi Walters, Ted Gaines, Jerry Hill, Ricardo Lara, Alex Padilla and Darrell Steinberg listened to familiar voices on both sides of the bill.

Opponents of the porn-condom bill who spoke included Karen Tynan, an attorney representing adult trade group Free Speech Coalition; performer Lorelei Lei; and Aaron Fox of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

The three were joined by some three-dozen individuals working in the adult entertainment industry, including performers, video editors, software engineers, stylists and other support staff, as well as a member of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association.

Proponents who spoke on AB 1576 included the usual group: AIDS Healthcare Foundation lobbyist Rand Martin and HIV-positive former performers Cameron Bay and Rod Daily, as well as the bill's author, Assemblyman Isadore Hall.

Hall, who led off with the dialogue as author, said that so far AB 1576 has had "consistent" bi-partisan support" among constituents in the Assembly, as well as the Senate. He also noted that existing state and federal OSHA standards require condoms in film production.

"And this applies anywhere in the nation," he said.

For the sake of fiscal policy, there is "negligible fund impact" if the bill is implemented but there is a cost for the state for not prioritizing it — "into the millions of dollars" per individual who contracts HIV from the porn set.

But Lei told the panel that there have been no such on-set infections in the past 10 years.

Lei said that Hall and the bill's sponsors haven't discussed the intent of the bill with the 1,200 performers who are estimated to be working in the porn industry in California.

Lei told the panel that she was armed with 650 petitions signed by adult industry performers who were against AB 1576.

"Bills are put on suspense file when their cost to the state exceeds a certain budgetary limit   The bill will be discussed further by the Appropriations committee after the state budget is completed, and will be announced with a simple up or down vote later next week," said FSC CEO Diane Duke in a statement after the decision was made to place the bill in the "suspense file."

"The implementation of AB1576 was estimated to cost the state between $125,000 to $150,000," Duke said. "The calculated amount does not incorporate any costs related to lost tax revenue or jobs, nor any lawsuits related to the bill."  

 “Assemblymember Hall said today that he’s speaking for people without a voice, yet the bill has been overwhelming opposed by performers and performer’s groups," she said. "That he could say that with a straight face after dozens of performers spoke out against him is incredible. It's not that they don't have a voice, it's that he's not listening.

“The more legislators hear about the bill, the more they don’t like it. This bill will have major financial cost for the California, while doing nothing to improve the safety of performers. And it’s not just performers and producers who are opposed to the bill, it’s HIV and AIDS outreach organizations, sex worker rights organizations, LGBTQ organizations, and business organizations.

"This morning, we had a great anti-AB 1576 editorial written by L.A. Times editor Jim Newton, joining the Orange County Register and the L.A. Daily News in their opposition to the bill. It’s a broad coalition. Just about the only people fighting for it are AHF and Hall.”

Duke said that opposition to the bill includes the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, AIDS Project Los Angeles, Project Inform, the Center for HIV Law and Policy, the Positive Women’s Network, the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance, the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, the St. James Infirmary, the Erotic Service Providers Union, the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee and VICA.

"[T]he bill has used fear and misinformation to take away performer’s control over their bodies and pushes the industry out of state,” she said.

The bill not only requires a 14-day, employer-paid testing protocol, AB 1576 also mandates that porn production companies keep confidential employee health records indefinitely, use "plastic and other disposable materials" to clean sets and provide all employees with a safety training program.

Last summer, the FSC and many in the adult industry cheered on to victory after AB 640, also authored by Hall, was tossed into the "suspense" file and dumped. The AHF at the time accused Assemblyman Mike Gatto with "single-handedly blocking" the bill, as well as an earlier related bill, AB 332.