AHF Amends Calif. Safer Sex Ballot Proposal

Feb 18, 2015 4:02 PM PST

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Michael Weinstein, the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and proponent of the proposed California Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act, has revised the ballot measure's language that, in particular, punishes adult film producers with harsher civil fines for noncompliance of the mandatory condom drive and its regulations.

Weinstein for years has argued that condoms and other preventive measures would improve workplace safety for porn performers and prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

After a number of defeats in the legislature, Weinstein and the AHF are putting their trust in California voters after they presumably collect enough signatures for an initiative on the ballot.

Weinstein filed the amended Safer Sex Act on Tuesday with the state Attorney General’s office and called the changes “reasonably germane to the theme, purpose and subject of the measure as originally proposed.”

"We took various comments into consideration in order to improve the measure," Weinstein told XBIZ.

New language in the proposed ballot measure points to a hike in Cal/OSHA penalties to those adult filmmakers who “knowingly or repeatedly” violate rules over maintaining engineering controls — condoms — for bloodborne pathogen, pay licensing fees and maintaining certain recordkeeping regarding filming.

Adult filmmakers, according to the proposed ballot measure’s new language, could face fines of up to $70,000 for making falsehoods upon certification that condoms are used in productions. Recordkeeping violations would amount to fines from $1,000 to $7,000, with repeat offenders on the hook for up to $15,000 per violation.

Corporations or limited liability companies also would be faced with Cal/OSHA fines of up to $1.5 million when a violation to the measure results in death or permanent impairment to performers or even stage crew.

The proposed ballot measure’s amended language, tightened up in at least a half-a-dozen paragraphs, also includes a line of text that would placate mainstream film production worries that it could be used against Hollywood filmmakers, as well.

The amended Safer Sex Act proposal now exempts “any film rated by the Motion Picture Association of America unless such film is an adult film.”

Diane Duke, the CEO of the adult entertainment industry trade association Free Speech Coalition, told XBIZ that at the outset one thing is very clear: "Michael Weinstein's personal crusade against adult films has hit a new level of obsession."

"The initiative authorizes Weinstein to personally file endless lawsuits, put money in his own pocket through attorneys fees,  and he even appoints himself as a deputy Attorney General who only can be fired by vote of the entire California Legislature," she said. "The proposal will cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year and will force the state employees to watch adult films — the finished product and raw video footage — everytime Weinstein files a complaint.

"This initiative is all about Michael Weinstein. Even though there has not been a single onset transmission of HIV in California in more than a decade, he wants to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to finance his personal obsession with adult films."

Industry insider and publicist Mike Stabile on Wednesday too called the changes to the proposal a part of Weinstein’s “obsessive focus on the adult industry and adult performers.”

“He doesn't care about equitable treatment, or actual science,” Stabile told XBIZ. “This isn't legislation; it's a vendetta.”

Stabile went on to say that the Safer Sex Act proposal “is a dangerous and at-times incomprehensible ballot measure that seeks to deputize Weinstein to monitor adult film production in California.”

“Because public health officials have largely balked at enforcing his Measure B initiative in L.A., he's decided that he should write into law the power to go after producers himself, using whatever tools he wishes,” he said. “We used to joke about Weinstein hiring a roomful of people to look at porn and watch for condoms, but the ballot measure would make it a reality — and funded by taxpayers."

After failing to pass legislation last year with Sen. Isadore Hall’s porn-condom legislation, Assembly Bill 1576, the AHF and its supporters of requiring adult-film actors to wear condoms have taken steps to put their proposal before voters in 2016.  But mainstream Hollywood likely would be turned off by the wording of the proposal unless it was excluded from it.

“It's not surprising that he exempts films rated by the MPAA, given that a number of films have featured actual rather than simulated sex,” Stabile said.  

Industry attorney Marc Randazza, who pushed hard against a porn-condom proposal last year at a hearing in the Legislature in Sacramento, said that the focus of the proposed ballot measure is now skewed.

“I do not see this curing any of the constitutional issues with the prior version — and in fact, now it seems awfully clear that it is completely content based,” Randazza told XBIZ. “What purpose does the MPAA exemption serve, except to ensure that this targets only small producers of independent films?”

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