Report:

2017 Legislative Scorecard

Released by: CALPIRG

When consumers are cheated, when our public health is threatened, or powerful interests have more say than ordinary people, our job is to stand up for the public interest. We’re funded by tens of thousands of supporters, from across the political spectrum, which allows us to be independent and focus on doing what’s best for the public. This scorecard grades legislators on their votes on a dozen significant legislative bills CALPIRG supported this year.

Most legislative proposals we work on are big enough ideas that they take at least a couple of years to build enough public support to pass. Almost every bill we work on has to overcome staunch opposition from an industry that is used to a status quo way of doing business.

Six of the scored bills were enacted into law in 2017. For example, thanks to SB 258, the chemical industry will for the first time have to prominently disclose the toxic chemicals they put in cleaning products. Thanks to SB 17, the prescription drug industry will no longer be able to enact big price hikes on medicine without giving purchasers two months’ notice to search for cheaper drugs. And thanks to AB 249, the California Disclose Act, political ads for ballot measures will much more clearly identify their biggest donors so that voters can consider the messenger along with the message.

But 2017 was only the first year in a two-year legislative session, and some of the most ambitious bills we supported did not pass this year. So we’ll be back in the capitol in 2018, arguing for 100% clean energy, a ban on polystyrene, increased consumer protections especially in the wake of the Equifax data breach, and other measures to lower the high cost of health care.

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Votes in this scorecard

Consumer Protection: Where we see perverse incentives in the marketplace for unsafe products or unscrupulous behavior, CALPIRG supports stronger consumer protections.

SB 33 (Dodd) – Wells Fargo – Prohibits the use of arbitration clauses in contracts fraudulently created by financial institutions – Signed into law

AB 375 (Chau) – Internet Privacy – Would prohibit broadband internet service providers from using or sharing information about customers’ internet search history – Held in the Senate

AB 1619 (Berman) – College student protections – Establishes state gainful employment standards for college and vocational programs to help eliminate those that show no benefit for their students – Held in the Senate

SB 313 (Hertzberg) –Enacts new consumer protections to help prevent consumers from being charged ongoing “autorenewal” fees without clear consent – Signed into law

Prescription Drug Costs: While there’s a robust debate happening now about how best to provide access to health care to everyone, there’s little disagreement about the fact that prescription drug companies are routinely price gouging consumers. So CALPIRG focused on a package of bills to help control prescription drug costs.

SB 17 (Hernandez) – Prescription Drugs –Requires the prescription drug companies to give 60-day advance notice before they can increase prices, giving purchasers the opportunity to either negotiate lower costs or switch to cheaper alternatives – Signed into law

SB 790 (McGuire) – Prescription drugs – Would ban lavish meals and other gifts that prescription drug companies give to doctors and prescribers in hopes of steering more consumers to their (often more expensive) medicine – Held in the Assembly

Public Health: Toxic pollution and unsafe chemicals are in our air, our water, and the products that we use in our daily lives, from cleaning sprays to takeout containers. We work to stop public exposure to chemicals and pollution that could harm our health. And at a minimum consumers should be given the information they need to protect themselves.

SB 258 (Lara) – Cleaning Products – Gives consumers onlabel and online information about chemicals linked to cancer in household cleaning products – Signed into law

AB 1328 (Limón) – Oil Operations – Requires oil and gas companies to publicly disclose chemicals that could contaminate land via wastewater – Signed into law

SB 705 (Allen) – Polysterene – Would ban use of expanded polystyrene (e.g. Styrofoam) as a food takeout container, which is linked to cancer and cannot be recycled. We have safer, and compostable, solutions – Held in the Assembly

SB 57 (Stern) – Aliso Canyon – Would prevent the reopening of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, where a major methane gas leak occurred in 2015, until the cause of the leak is understood and resolved – Held in the Senate

Clean Energy: Global warming is the planet’s most pressing challenge. California must lead the nation and the world in getting off our dependence on fossil fuels.

SB 100 (de León) – Clean Energy – Requires California to generate 100% of electricity from clean energy sources by 2045 – Held in the Assembly

Money in Politics: CALPIRG staunchly disagrees with the Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United and other cases that have equated money with speech. Until we can stop corporate and really wealthy donors from unduly influencing our elections, we can at least give voters clear information about who is funding political ads, so that voters can consider the messenger along with the message.

AB 249 (Mullin)– Campaign Finance – Improves disclosures on political ads to clearly state the top three funders of those ads – Signed into law

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