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Legislative Update: May 24, 2019

The process:

The 27th of May marks the house of origin deadline in the State Assembly and State Senate. This means that every bill that has been proposed this year has to at least have been passed by the entire body of the house in which the bill was proposed, or that measure will be defeated for the year.

House of origin has historically been a deadline where seriously controversial bills have either failed or received support, implying that the bill could make its way to the Governor’s desk at some point. This year, very few bills that have passed their respective policy committees and fiscal committees have actually failed on the Assembly or Senate floor. Perhaps the most notable failure comes with a bill that CDA opposes: the outright ban on flavored tobacco products.

Key bill updates:

SB 38 (Hill) – Sugar Sweetened Beverage Taxes – Pulled from Consideration

Senator Hill’s bill would ban the sale of any flavored tobacco products. This bill was introduced in response to concerns that vape products are being marketed to underage smokers.  As drafted, this bill would not only apply to vape products, it would also ban products that have been legal for decades, including menthol flavored tobacco products. The bill was allowed to pass out of its fiscal committee, but not before a number of notable amendments were made to the bill. The changes exempted hookah products, and products that were patented before the year 2000. With these changes the key supporters of the legislation withdrew their support. That led the author to pull the bill from consideration rendering it dead for the year.

SB 347 (Monning) – Sugar Sweetened Beverage Safety Warnings – Passed the Senate

Senator Monning has repeatedly authored bills to tax or limit access to sugar sweetened beverages during his time in the Senate. This bill would have required product safety warnings on bottles, cans, and dispensers. The potential for Prop. 65-style compliance lawsuits coming from this bill are extremely high. The bill would place many small grocers and convenience store operators at risk of extremely high litigation costs.

This bill has unfortunately passed the State Senate and will next be considered in the State Assembly policy committees that have jurisdiction over the issue. The bill was stalled on the Senate floor, but 4 Senators that were abstentions agreed at the last minute to vote for the bill in order to support their colleague.

AB 228 (Aguiar-Curry) – Industrial Hemp Products – Passed Assembly, Urgency Clause Added

Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry’s bill seeks to bring clarity to industrial hemp derived products, such as consumable products including hemp-derived CBD oil. The bill has passed its house of origin and has had an urgency clause added to it. The urgency clause means the bill now requires a vote of 2/3 of legislators to pass the bill, but the bill when signed becomes law immediately, rather than waiting until January of the following year. Proponents hope the bill will bring clarity to the law and allow California regulators to comply with the changes in federal law regarding industrial hemp derived CBD products. The addition of the urgency clause signals a likelihood of quick action on the part of the legislature to enact the bill.

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