State Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) has accomplished what has been done only once since Proposition 65 was enacted in 1986. The assemblyman on Sept. 15 received a unanimous vote from both houses of California’s legislature to enact his Proposition 65 reform legislation (AB 1583).
The legislation was designed to even the playing field in Proposition 65 enforcement actions for small businesses that were vulnerable to the lawsuits, and without the resources that national brands have at their disposal. The legislation provides that the underlying facts in a Proposition 65 enforcement action are discoverable to defendants, who have until now had a difficult time accessing this information until their case had languished on the docket until the party’s engaged in discovery.
When Assemblyman Chau met with his constituents late last year, it was clear that most if not all of them settled early on to avoid the steadily mounting attorney fees that would eventually drive them out of business.
In late May Assemblyman Chau said he was confident that recent amendments to his bill that would limit the amount of Proposition 65 cases filed going forward.
Chau also introduced amendments to the measure that would provide education to small business owners about what Proposition 65 requires of them. The information would be provided by Gov. Brown’s Office of Economic Development which would post information pertaining to Proposition 65 on its website.
The State Assembly passed the measure by a vote of 79-0 and the State Senate passed the bill by a margin of 40-0.
The only other time a Proposition 65 reform bill was passed in both chambers of the California legislature by a unanimous vote was when Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s bill to protect small businesses such as restaurants, bars and parking lots allowing small business owners a two-week grace period to post a sign and pay a fine was adopted in 2013. Governor Brown signed Gatto’s bill into law, and is expected to do the same with AB 1583.
The National Federation of Independent Business applauded the passage of AB 1583 and urged Governor Brown to sign the measure. Executive Director Tom Scott said in a statement that “AB 1583 would bring fairness and transparency to lawsuits brought under Proposition 65.” Scott added the legislation help curb the economic incentive of bounty hunters by “requiring the California Attorney General to review a certificate of merit and deem whether there is or is not merit to the legal action. This would help relieve the growing threat of costly litigation for struggling small businesses across this state.”