Governor Brown announced yesterday proposed reforms to Proposition 65, a three decade old proposition approved by voters to protect Californians from harmful chemicals. It has, according to Brown , been abused by some unscrupulous lawyers driven by profit rather than public health.
The law which prohibits the exposure to the public of certain chemicals “known to the State” to cause cancer and/or reproductive hazards without warning to the public. The issue is that the statute has allegedly been abused by plaintiff attorneys more interested in fees then the public benefit.
The administration, will discuss reforms to:
• Cap or limit attorney’s fees in Proposition 65 cases.
• Require stronger demonstration by plaintiffs that they have information to support claims before litigation begins.
• Require greater disclosure of plaintiff’s information.
• Set limits on the amount of money in an enforcement case that can go into settlement funds in lieu of penalties.
• Provide the State with the ability to adjust the level at which Proposition 65 warnings are needed for chemicals that cause reproductive harm.
• Require more useful information to the public on what they are being exposed to and how they can protect themselves.
Because the requirements for making changes to voter-approved laws such as Proposition 65 are more stringent, the Legislature would need to pass the Brown administration’s bill by a two-thirds margin vote and to approve ithey would also have to show that the changes advance the purpose of the act.