AB 706 was introduced and championed by Assemblyman Mark Leno and named one of the six must pass bills of this legislative session by the LA Times, yet it failed to escape the State Senate yesterday. It was supported by children's advocates and firefighters as a vital step towards eliminating dangerous fire retardants which release toxic, cancer-causing smoke during fires. The manufacturers of these fire retardants spent millions of dollars on a group they called "Californians for Fire Safety" and promptly sent out glossy mailers with pictures of firefighters but not their actual support, whipping up a veneer of false public pressure over the bill.
In the end, it was enough. Republicans in the Senate didn't even matter because so many Democrats broke ranks when push came to shove over protecting corporations that poison our children and public servants. Democratic Senators Correa (Orange County), Ducheny (San Diego), Florez (Bakersfield & Fresno), Machado (Stockton), and Vincent (LA) all voted nay, providing the razor thin 20-19 defeat (1 abstained).
This one really wasn't ever controversial. It's very basic protection for firefighters, for children, for pregnant mothers. It might not have been sexy, but it was very necessary. Senator Ducheny appears to have found the concerns and the money of the chemical manufacturing industry more compelling than public health and safety. I haven't seen or heard any statement from her or her office on this vote and can't call this morning. I welcome the Senator's explanation in any forum and would be happy to update this post, but it would have to be quite compelling to explain this away.