Proposition 65 was passed by the voters in 1986. The Proposition requires, among other things, any business employing 10 or more people to give a warning whenever those employees, the consumer or the general public may be exposed to a chemical that causes cancer or reproductive toxicity. Failure to provide the warning subjects the business to fines.
Since, under certain circumstances,a private individual can bring suit for alleged violation of the Proposition and keep a portion of the fines, the business community has long complained that the law is subject to abuse by “bounty hunters”. Given the expense of defending against claims and the potential for large fines (as much as $2,500 per day), many businesses quickly settle with these bounty hunters, despite the businesses’ position that the claims are often unjustified.
In a rare show of bipartisan consensus, the Legislature has as of this past Monday unanimously passed Assembly Bill 227 (Assemb. Memb. Mike Gatto, D-43rd District; Burbank-Glendale). AB 227 would give certain business activities some relief from these bounty-hunter liabilities (the legislation passed on May 24, 2013 with a vote of 72-0 in the Assembly and passed on September 10, 2013 in the Senate with a vote of 37-0).
The businesses getting a modicum of relief include, under prescribed circumstances, restaurants and bars where patrons may be exposed to food or alcoholic beverages which include chemicals that can cause cancer or reproductive toxicity; property owners where occupants may be exposed to tobacco smoke; and owners and operators of parking structures where exhaust fumes can subject people to cancer-causing constituents, provided the parking is intended for noncommercial vehicles. Upon being notified of a failure to have a required warning re the just-mentioned exposure pathways, these businesses would have 14 days in which to correct the violation and pay a $500 fine as opposed to the otherwise daily fines (which, as noted above, could be as much
as $2,500 per day).
AB 227 contains an urgency clause which makes the legislation effective as soon as the Governor signs the bill
(as presumably he will).
This article first appeared as part of my weekly column for the Valley News Group (San Fernando Valley, California) group of newspapers.