Aloe Vera Added to Prop. 65 List

Aloe VeraThere are two very different types of actors in the realm of making our economy tick. Entrepreneurs wake of every day trying to think of new ways to innovate, to expand, and thus create new jobs. Then there are the regulators in Sacramento who wake up every day thinking of new, creative ways to add burdens and barriers to operating your business in California and beyond. Their latest regulatory red alert: Aloe vera.

You read that correctly: Aloe vera. In December of last year, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) published its intent to list Aloe vera, whole leave extract to the Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer. Despite the widely accepted extensive health benefits of Aloe vera, an unelected regulator in Sacramento can now tell you and all consumers it will cause cancer, even if no cases of cancer from Aloe vera exposure exist.

The problem is that the 800+ chemicals listed in Proposition 65 are not devised to protect consumers, but rather serve as a cash cow for private trial lawyers to sue small business and reap the hefty settlement payout. Since 1986, nearly 20,000 lawsuits have been filed, adding up to over half a billion dollars in settlement payments by business owners.

Unfortunately, the most profitable thing regulators give to trial lawyers at the expense of job creators is confusion. Recent Proposition 65 proposed regulatory revisions create compliance difficulties, increase frivolous litigation, and add consumer confusion.

Included in these proposed revisions are additional Prop 65 labeling requirements on the immediate container or wrapper of products containing at least one of the twelve chemicals listed by OEHHA. However, the chemical(s) only need to be listed if it exists at a “level that requires a warning.” Which products need a Prop 65 warning label and which do not? A lawyer only needs to know the chemical exists to take legal action; the costly burden to prove it exists at a safe level falls on the business owner.

Beyond package labels and chemical lists, new proposed regulations seek to further specify even the acceptable font size for Prop 65 warning signs. Most business owners would not know that the font on a Prop 65 warning must be “no smaller than one half the largest type size used for other consumer information.” The average small business coffee shop owner is likely unaware that he or she may be at serious risk for a frivolous lawsuit because of a minor font size error.

Confused yet? The bottom line is that these regulations exist to cause confusion, and the latest addition of aloe vera to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer only further confuses both consumers and small businesses. Every time a chemical is added to the Prop. 65 list, it simply creates one more avenue for trial lawyers to sue.

If our regulators and legislators in Sacramento spent half as much effort thinking of ways to support small business as they do devising new creative ways to regulate them, perhaps California would not be ranked dead last for its business climate by CEO Magazine ten years in a row, nor would we be listed as the #1 Judicial Hellhole by the American Tort Reform Foundation.

Small businesses reflect the lifeblood of every community across California and the nation. Each day, entrepreneurs struggle to thrive in spite of additional mandates and regulations—now small businesses can add aloe vera to their list of things to worry about. Let’s instead focus on policies that support small business, not regulations that add to the cost of doing business in California.

CA Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business.

For more than 70 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been the Voice of Small Business, taking the message from Main Street to the halls of Congress and all 50 state legislatures. NFIB has 350,000 dues-paying members nationally, with over 22,000 in California. NFIB annually surveys its members on state and federal issues vital to their survival as America’s economic engine and biggest creator of jobs. To learn more visit www.NFIB.com/california.

Scientist Debunks Claim That E-Cigs Are As Dangerous As Tobacco

e-cigaretteA study making headlines across the world claiming two e-cigarette products “damaged cells in ways that could lead to cancer,” is under fire from a leading public health expert.

Conducted by a research team at the University of California, San Diego, the study investigated how e-cigarettes may contribute to the development and progression of a cancer known as head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

The research team “created an extract from the vapor of two popular brands of e-cigarettes and used it to treat human cells in Petri dishes. Compared with untreated cells, the treated cells were more likely to show DNA damage and die.”

What was the result?

“The exposed cells showed several forms of damage, including DNA strand breaks. The familiar double helix that makes up DNA has two long strands of molecules that intertwine. When one or both of these strands break apart and the cellular repair process doesn’t work right, the stage is set for cancer.”

One of the study’s authors even went on to claim “they [e-cigarettes] are no better than smoking regular cigarettes.” Combined with a hyperbolic press release, the study has triggered a wave of headlines claiming vaping is just as dangerous as smoking.

But Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University School of Public Health, with 25 years of experience in the field of tobacco control has dissected the most sensational claims of both the researchers and headline writers.

In a statement sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation, Siegel said, “this study confirms previous findings that e-cigarette vapor can cause damage to epithelial cell lines in culture, and that the damage caused by e-cigarette vapor is much lower than that caused by tobacco smoke. However, it cannot be concluded from this cell culture study that e-cigarette vapor actually has toxic or carcinogenic effects in humans who use these products.”

“In particular, the dose at which e-cigarette vapor was found to have an adverse effect was much higher than the actual dose that a vapor receives. Nevertheless, one of the co-authors concluded publicly that based on these results, e-cigarette use is no less hazardous than cigarette smoking.”

Siegel added that “not only is this conclusion baseless, but it is damaging to the public’s health. It undermines decades of public education about the severe hazards of cigarette smoking. To declare that smoking is no more hazardous than using e-cigarettes, a non-tobacco-containing product is a false and irresponsible claim.”

One of Siegel’s chief concerns about the misrepresentation of e-cigarettes is many ex-smokers who took up vaping may switch back to regular cigarettes if they believe there is no difference between the two. “This will cause actual human health damage, not merely damage to some cells in a laboratory culture,” says Siegel.

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Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

Leaking Gas Well Lacked Working Safety Valve

As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

A leaking natural gas well that has displaced thousands of residents in Porter Ranch lacked a working safety valve, sparking new questions about how the facility was maintained.

Attorneys for residents suing Southern California Gas Co. said the company failed to replace the safety valve when it was removed in 1979.

The safety valve may not have prevented the leak, but it would have stopped the continued release of fumes pouring into the community, attorney Brian Panish said in an interview Sunday.

SoCal Gas spokeswoman Melissa Bailey confirmed in an email to The Times that the well did not have …

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California bill would require double pay on Thanksgiving

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

As Californians start brining birds and mashing potatoes, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, is again hoping to dish out meatier wages for Thanksgiving workers.

She plans to amend and revive stalled legislation guaranteeing double Thanksgiving pay so it would only apply to workers at large retail businesses that have more than 500 employees in California.

Earlier this year the Assembly rejected a version that would have covered more workers. Gonzalez said she hoped the amended version would fare better by focusing on big retailers.

Plan to regulate medical marijuana heads to Jerry Brown

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

After years of false starts and nearly two decades after California legalized cannabis for medical purposes, lawmakers Friday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a legislative package to regulate the billion-dollar industry.

Medical marijuana would be newly defined as an agricultural product with rules for water use, discharge and pesticides, and would be tracked and tested through the process.

The trio of bills would allow for testing and labeling of edible marijuana, overseen by the Department of Public Health, and prevent environmental degradation like water diversion via the Department of Food and Agriculture, which would also manage cultivation.

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California University Will Ban Soda Sales On Campus

SodaThe University of California-San Francisco is halting the sale of soda and other sugary drinks on campus due to health concerns.

Under the new policy, which was decided upon in May and will be implemented in July, campus vendors will be blocked from selling all drinks with added sugar calories to the school’s 4,600 students. That means no Coca-Cola, no Dr. Pepper, and no fruit punch. Diet sodas and 100 percent juice drinks will still be tolerated, and students will be allowed to bring sugary drinks on campus if they buy them elsewhere.

“The average American consumes nearly three times the recommended amount of added sugar every day,” UCSF professor Laura Schmidt said in the school’s initial announcement. “The most common single source is sugar-sweetened beverages.”

While UCSF characterizes the policy as a voluntary “strategy” for its vendors, the vendors themselves don’t agree. Kenneth Guzman, who operates an on-campus restaurant, told Inside Higher Ed that he “didn’t really have a choice” about dumping soda.

“I felt like it was a little too rash, they are too harsh,” Guzman said. “We could’ve just educated our customers on how to choose healthier alternatives and not punish them, taking away what they love.”

Another food vendor on campus said he thought it was silly for the school to ban sugared drinks but not diet sodas.

“Artificial sugars are worse than sugar itself,” said Peasant Pie operator Ali Keshavarz. “If my kid had a choice between a sugar soda and a diet soda, I’d want them to have the sugar soda, I know that for a fact.”

The new policy makes UCSF the first university in the country to put such a broad limit on sugar sales, and comes just two years after the campus banned all tobacco products.

The decision may be slightly more justified at UCSF than at other colleges, as the school is focused solely on graduate education in health sciences.

The move is also premised on research the school itself has conducted. A 2012 article in Nature by three UCSF researchers argued the health consequences of added sugars were so severe they deserved to be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol.

“Passive smoking and drink-driving fatalities provided strong arguments for tobacco and alcohol control,” the authors say in the article. “The long-term economic, health-care and human costs of metabolic syndrome place sugar overconsumption in the same category. The United States spends $65 billion in lost productivity and $150 billion on health-care resources annually for morbidities associated with metabolic syndrome.” Metabolic disorders related to sugar, the authors say, consume 75 percent of U.S. health spending.

Since “individually focused approaches” such as education aren’t working, the authors say, what is needed are “supply-side” restrictions such as higher taxes, age restrictions, and banning sales at schools.

Leeanne Jensen, the school’s wellness coordinator, told Inside Higher Ed the ban meant UCSF was “living our mission” by adopting its own advice on health. She also said the ban was focused on sugary drinks because their effect on health was particularly bad. High-sugar foods like cookies are more satiating than soda, she said, while the research on diet sodas is not as clear regarding whether they are unhealthy or not.

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

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CA: Worst Place For Business, 11th Year In A Row

California’s economic recovery might be a little over stated, at least according to the people who actually create jobs.

Chief Executive Magazine has released its annual Best and Worst States for Business Survey and California ranked last – for the 11th year in a row. In the annual survey, completed by 511 CEOs across the United States, states are measured across three key categories to achieve their overall ranking: taxes and regulations, quality of the workforce and living environment, which includes things like, quality of education, cost of living, affordable housing, social amenities and crime rates.

California again placed 50th on the list, joining New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Massachusetts at the bottom. Texas remained in the number one slot followed by Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

One CEO was quoted as saying, “the good states ask what they can do for you; the bad states ask what they can get from you.” Another CEO was quoted, “California and Oregon are essentially anti-business, whereas Texas and Tennessee do everything possible comfortable and more successful.”

Litigation and a state’s legal climate are one of the things weighing on the minds of CEOs as they consider states in which to do business and create jobs. California continues to be a “Judicial Hellhole,” and is tepid at best in its willingness to stop lawsuit abuse. Businesses will be discouraged from expanding and creating jobs in a state in which the lawsuit system mainly serves the interests of lawyers rather than ordinary people.

A single abusive lawsuit can cost a business tremendously. California’s leaders need to make this connection and make it a priority to enact meaningful reforms to our lawsuit system.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

xecutive director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

Californians cut water use 13.5 percent in April

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

Californians improved their conservation efforts by cutting water use 13.5 percent in April, a significant jump from the previous two months when residents all but ignored Gov. Jerry Brown’s drought mandates as the state’s historic dry spell headed toward a fourth summer.

The new numbers, released Tuesday, suggest residents started to get serious in April after Brown announced the first mandatory drought rules in state history from a grassy Sierra Nevada meadow that normally would have been under five feet of snow. The state’s urban residents more than tripled their water savings in April from earlier this year when they reduced water use by only 3.9 percent in March, and just 2.6 percent in February.

Brown administration officials on Tuesday cheered the positive trend. But they noted that as the hot, summer months loom, significantly more must be done to keep the state from running dangerously low on drinking water as the drought continues into its fourth punishing year. …

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Mandatory Vaccination Bill Quickly Advancing Through Legislature

vaccine2After a fractious debate, the California Senate passed a revised draft of the controversial bill that would largely eliminate the state’s religious and personal belief exemptions for child inoculation. With the bill on a likely track for passage in the Assembly, momentum has begun to gather for even more muscular pro-vaccine legislation.

Sweeping changes

As CalWatchdog.com previously reported, state Sens. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, and Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, had to rewrite key passages of the bill’s language in order to head off potential constitutional challenges to its treatment of kids without the specified vaccinations.

The bulk of the original bill remained intact, however, sweeping away California’s longstanding and generous rules permitting parents to keep their children vaccine-free. “Several Republican senators tried to stall the bill by introducing a series of amendments that would have reinserted the religious exemption and required labeling of vaccine ingredients,” according to the Sacramento Bee. But Democrats moved swiftly to shut them down.

For some critics, barring unvaccinated children from public school remained a bone of contention. “It’s clear that a large portion of concerned parents will likely withhold their children from public schools because of their concerns or lack of comfort from the vaccination process,” said GOP state Sen. John Moorlach, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

But some carveouts were set to remain. “The legislation only addresses families that will soon enroll their children in school,” as Newsweek observed. “Under the proposed law, children who aren’t currently immunized are not required to get vaccinated until seventh grade. The law still allows families to opt out due to medical reasons, such as a history of allergies to vaccines and inherited or acquired immune disorders or deficiencies.”

The so-called grandfather clause represented a major concession to parents’ groups, which had succeeded in stalling Pan and Allen’s legislation once before. Now, as the San Jose Mercury News reported, “more than 13,000 children who have had no vaccinations by first grade won’t have to get their shots until they enter seventh grade. And nearly 10,000 seventh-graders who today aren’t fully vaccinated may be able to avoid future shots because the state does not always require them after that grade.”

Regulatory momentum

Despite the lenience built into the advancing legislation, the pro-vaccine logic that propelled it has already increased momentum for an even more assertive approach to enforcing inoculation.

As KQED News has noted, “two other vaccine-related bills are making their way through the Legislature a bit more quietly. One would require preschool and child care workers to have certain vaccinations; another seeks to improve vaccination rates for 2-year-olds.”

“If SB792 becomes law, California will be the first state in the country to require that all preschool and child care workers be immunized against measles, pertussis and the flu.”

Supporters of the ratcheted-up regulation sought to head off more controversy by downplaying the invasiveness and inconvenience of their approach. “We certainly aren’t out to arrest people who aren’t vaccinated,” said Kat DeBurgh, executive director of the Health Officers Association of California, a group that sponsored SB792. “We wanted to make this just like any other violation of code that an inspector would look for. If you don’t remediate, then there is a fine to the day care center.”

At the same time, pro-vaccination analysts have speculated that the Golden State will save money the more it ensures vaccination. Referring to a recent study showing that Iowa’s health care spending would double if it added a personal belief exemption, Tara Haelle suggested that California’s “health care cost savings would be far more substantial” once its exemption was eliminated, although, she conceded, “no thorough analyses are currently available.”

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

California tells for-profit chain to stop enrolling veterans

As reported by the Associated Press:

A for-profit college company with 15 campuses in California was ordered by the state Friday to stop enrolling new or returning students who plan to fund their educations with GI Bill benefits.

The order to ITT Educational Services came in a suspension notice issued by a division of the California Department of Veterans Affairs that sanctions training programs to serve veterans.

ITT operates more than 135 schools in 39 states under the names ITT Technical Institute and Daniel Webster College.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a fraud complaint against the Indiana-based company this week over an alleged scheme to cover up losses from private student loans that ITT had guaranteed to its investors.

California officials suspended ITT as an …