California Prop 65: Governor Brown Seeks Reforms

May 7, 2013

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. proposed in order to strengthen and restore the Act's original intent. Passed in 1986, Proposition 65 was designed to protect citizens of the state from harmful chemicals; however, Governor Brown believes that it has been abused by "unscrupulous lawyers" driven by profits as opposed to public health.

Through the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA), the administration aims to end "shake-down" lawsuits while at the same time improve the way the public is notified of dangerous chemicals. In addition, the administration is aiming to strengthen the scientific basis for determining warning levels.

Although Proposition 65 has shown improvements in the reduction of toxic chemicals, Governor Brown believes the Act has been abused by many lawyers who bring forth lawsuits that have little to no environmental or public benefit: "Proposition 65 is a good law that's helped many people, but it's being abused by unscrupulous lawyers. This is an effort to improve the law so it can do what it was intended to do - protect Californians from harmful chemicals," stated Governor Brown (May 7, 2013).

Provisions defined within Proposition 65 allow attorneys to raise complaints against businesses who explicitly expose the public to known hazardous chemicals.

Proposition 65 requires an annual publication of a list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. Any business that uses a chemical listed by the state must provide on their products a clear warning or label available for the public.

The administration, along with stakeholders and the Legislature, will discuss the following: limitations to attorney fees in cases pertaining to Proposition 65; prior to litigation, plaintiffs must provide greater information to support their claims; plaintiffs' information must require a greater sense of disclosure; and how to make useful information more readily available to the public and how to protect themselves.

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