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Assemblyman Phil Ting. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Not All Product Bans Made it to the Governor’s Desk

Fur ban passed, plastic food packaging ban didn’t

By Katy Grimes, September 16, 2019 8:54 am

‘It’s not about animal welfare, it’s about animal use’


First California legislators came for our cigarettes, and banned smoking indoors and in public parks. Then they banned plastic bags, foie gras and shark fin soup. Next they banned styrofoam and plastic straws, petroleum products, and natural gas fracking. Chicken farmers are banned from caging egg-laying chickens, and the sale of pork and veal in California from farm animals raised in cages is also banned.

The Legislature just banned new fur sales, and tried to ban plastic food packaging.

Fur Ban

The ban on the sale of new fur in California was passed the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, and is a real head-scratcher.

Assemblywoman Laura Friedman. (Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

With the passage of AB 44, by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) ,California is the first state in the country to ban the sale of new fur products.

“I didn’t come to Sacramento to shut down legitimate business or industry – the free market does that, “Sen. John Moorlach said Wednesday during the final debate on the future of the fur industry in California.

“It’s not about animal welfare, it’s about animal use,” Keith Kaplan with the Fur Information Council of America, said. The attack on the fur industry and the people working in the industry is ironic, since it is an industry largely made up of immigrant families, says . “This is not their first time facing this.” Kaplan says. He tried to get through to the lawmakers supportive of AB 44 that fur is an artisanal trade and around  the world the industry is made up primarily of immigrant families several generations deep. “For many Jewish,  Greek and Armenian immigrants escaping tyranny and oppression in their own countries their skill and craftsmanship with fur allowed them to lay the foundation for a new life in their new countries.  And now a government turns against them again.”

“The animal extremists wants to shut these businesses down simply because they don’t agree with what they do,” Kaplan said. “Is this really the majority will?  Increasing sales of fur across this country tell us otherwise.  The marketplace is the truest, most honest indicator of consumer trends and public acceptability.  If people didn’t want fur manufacturers wouldn’t be making it and retailers wouldn’t be selling it.”

Kaplan noted that regulations regarding production have been the answer to animal extremist campaigns attacking virtually every other animal use industry.  “Why not for fur?” he asked. “Because fur is a luxury item, a vanity item.  It makes it easier for lawmakers to justify their position on ‘moral’ grounds.  But is it really their purview to legislate this kind of morality?”

Apparently so, since the Legislature passed the bill, and Gov. Newsom signed it.

Plastics Ban

The attempt to ban nearly all plastic food packaging products failed in the Legislature. But other plastics bans were passed.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. (Kevin Sanders for California Globe)
Assemblyman Ben Allen. (Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D- San Diego) and State Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) are the authors of bills to phase out the sale and distribution of single-use plastics by 2030, because as they argued, “our addiction to single-use plastics is killing our ecosystems.” Assembly Bill 1080 and Senate Bill 54 claim there is a “pollution and waste crisis,” and these bills will “dramatically reducing the amount of single-use waste generated in the California and requiring the remaining packaging and products to be truly recyclable or compostable.”

The push to make California the first state ban “single-use packaging” failed to pass, as the Legislature adjourned late Friday/early Saturday morning, without acting on the Gonzalez/Allen bills. But many said AB 1080 and SB 54 had too many crucial details unresolved, leaving the bills half-baked with the potential to overreach.

Assemblyman Ash Kalra. (Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

However a bill by Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), AB 1162, which will ban those convenient small plastic shampoo, conditioner and lotion bottles offered in hotels, was passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom September 11. Kalra says these tiny “single use” bottles produce such a significant amount into the waste stream, his bill is needed to reduce this serious problem.

AB 792, a proposal by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) that phases-in the minimum amount of recycled materials plastic beverage bottles must contain, was also passed by the Legislature and sits on the governor’s desk. “A 100% minimum content requirement by 2035 was stricken during a committee hearing this month,” Ting said. “Still, the proposal represents a big step in the right direction, going further than the EU and reducing the need to continue making new plastic.”

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