California governor Jerry Brown’s proposed Proposition 65 reforms have gone nowhere, Daniel Herling of law firm Mintz Leven says, but another attempt at reform – Assembly Bill 227 – is making progress.
AB 227 would give business owners receiving a notice of Proposition 65 violation a two-week grace period, during which they could avoid a lawsuit by posting the required warning signs and paying a $500 fine. This could be a big change from the current situation, which has led to companies paying thousands to settle Prop. 65 claims that are hardly environmental in nature – for example, bars finding themselves taken to task because they didn’t post notices about the alcohol they serve.
The bill has received wide-ranging support from business interests, including the American Chemistry Council, California Restaurant Association, California Retailers Association, many cities’ chambers of commerce, and trade bodies representing the air conditioning, automotive, brewing, coating, food manufacture, healthcare, hotel, metals, multi-family home, oil and travel industries. In a full Assembly vote in May, the bill received 72 votes for, 0 against. The bill is now moving through Senate committees.
Herling argues that the reforms of AB 227 are nearly insignificant compared to what the state needs, but that seems an exaggeration. If a small business can pay $500 to avoid drawn-out, expensive litigation (the average Proposition 65 settlement in 2011 reportedly cost $65,000), surely that is significant.
Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.