Porn-Condom Bill AB 1576 Doesn't Move Forward
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The state Senate Appropriations Committee did not act on AB 1576 today and the bill will not move forward.
Porn-condom bill AB 1576 sponsored by Assemblyman Isadore Hall of Compton, Calif., was tabled — placed in the "suspense file" — by California's Senate Appropriations Committee last week.
Today, the committee shelved the bill, which would have required the use of condoms in adult film productions, as well as STI and HIV testing for performers.
This afternoon, Diane Duke told XBIZ that the Free Speech Coalition was "grateful" to members of the Senate "who saw this bill for what it was — a bald-faced attempt to exploit performers for political gain."
"But the assault had an unintended consequences — it unified performers and producers in ways that we haven’t seen in decades," the CEO of the Canoga Park, Calif., trade group said. "Out of this grows a stronger industry, one not unintimidated by harassment campaigns like AB 1576. But the battle is not actually over, for we must always work to make sure our productions are safe and legal, that our performers have a strong voice in their own sexual health, and that we keep a thriving industry in California."
Adult entertainment attorney Allan Gelbard of Tarzana, Calif., told XBIZ that it appears that the Senate Appropriations Committee has "seen through all the smoke and mirrors and has decided that AB 1576 is not good for California."
"It would do nothing to protect public health, and actually would have the exact opposite effect as to protecting the health of performers," Gelbard said. "The fiscal effects on the state would be especially damaging.
"Further, at a time when California is trying to attract new business, it would make little sense to drive a legal and profitable business out of the state to appease Mr. Hall's and Mr. Weinstein's anti-porn agenda," he said. "I suspect the Los Angeles Times article may have had an effect as well.
"Now if the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal would just hand down a proper decision on the Measure B case, the industry will be able to return to making artistic, exciting and constitutionally protected works that people actually want."
The legislative process worked exactly as it should, said Jeffrey Douglas, the Free Speech Coalition's board chair and Santa Monica, Calif., adult entertainment industry attorney.
"A bad bill died," Douglas told XBIZ. "Its only strength was politics, rather than policy. Congratulations to FSC CEO Diane Duke and to the dozens of industry figures who contributed so much time, money and effort.
"Special appreciation to Peter Acworth of Kink (and FSC director), Michael Stabile and the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee. I apologize to the scores of others who deserve individual attribution. What a superb victory."
Acworth, founder and CEO of Kink.com, who went head to head with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's president over the considerations of AB 1576 through the past six months, was delighted with the news. Acworth operates Kink.com out of the studio's cavernous facility, The Armory, in San Francisco.
"Thank you so much to all those who worked so hard on this," he told XBIZ. "Thanks to the performers especially for coming together and making sure their voices were heard. The battle is over but the war continues.
"The industry is more aligned than ever and we have made some powerful allies in this process, which puts us in a good position for upcoming hearings on the new Cal/OSHA proposed regs."
Howard Levine of Exile Distribution told XBIZ that he gives credit to the studio chief who earlier took on AB 1576, as well as Measure B with a lawsuit against Los Angeles County — Vivid co-founder Steven Hirsch.
"Hirsch fought this bill from minute one, and he deserves a lot of credit and a big thank you from every production company," Levine said. "If we stand together and fight, instead of cow towing to these ridiculous bills, we get something done."
Marc Randazza, a Las Vegas adult entertainment industry attorney who traveled to Sacramento in April to offer his opinion to an Assembly panel that voted in favor of the bill, said he was surprised that the bill didn't move forward.
"I am pleasantly stunned," Randazza told XBIZ. "I had my money on stupid winning this one."
Late Thursday, Hall, in response to his bill's defeat, criticized fellow legislators for not passing the bill in the state Senate Appropriations Committee, saying that it is "unfortunate that some legislators don’t believe that protection should include keeping California actors safe while they are at work.”
“While I am disappointed with today’s outcome, one thing is and has always been clear on this issue: Existing state and federal bloodborne pathogen laws already require the use of a condom or barrier device when producing an adult film anywhere in California and the U.S.," Hall said.
"AB 1576 wouldn’t have changed existing law, but it would have helped increase industry compliance in protecting its workers," he said. "Here is the dirty little secret about porn production in California: it’s just work. Take away the racy titles and creative storylines found in many of these films and adult film actors become, well, just workers."