California Porn Condom Bill Passes Committee
A bill that would require adult film actors to wear condoms during productions anywhere in California and to be tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases passed a committee vote Tuesday.
AB1576 is the third attempt by Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, to expand statewide a Los Angeles mandate approved by voters in 2012.
Public health advocates and some porn stars call the bill a basic workplace safety measure that will prevent the spread of disease.
"These are employees, and they have the right to be protected just like any other employee in any other job or business," said Joshua Rodgers, who performed in gay porn under the stage name Rod Daily. He said he stopped performing after routine testing showed he contracted HIV, though he does not blame a porn shoot for the diagnosis.
Deborah Gold, an official with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, said investigators already cite adult film makers who shoot scenes without condoms under broad safety rules. But unprotected sex continues to be rampant in the industry, in part because state investigations are based on complaints.
Supporters of the bill are turning to the Legislature after finding state regulators slow to adopt standards to require condom use in the adult film industry specifically.
Porn studio owners say they have their own protocols, including regular testing, to protect workers without a condom mandate. Several performers testified in support of their employers.
"Condoms are made for home environments, normal sex and normal time frames," actress Kayden Kross said in her testimony.
Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, told lawmakers that the porn industry is worth $6 billion in the San Fernando Valley. He said that includes supporting businesses, such as catering crews.
The Free Speech Coalition, an adult entertainment trade group, says production has been leaving Los Angeles since voters approved Measure B in 2012. A federal appeals court is expected to rule on a lawsuit challenging the law later this year.
The coalition cites figures by Film LA, a nonprofit issuing licenses, showing a drop in adult film permits to 40 in 2013 from about 480 in 2012. But Hall’s office and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a bill sponsor, say those numbers don’t reflect a much larger, unpermitted industry.
Attorney Marc Randazza, who represents adult film clients, told lawmakers that California businesses are already being courted to Nevada with low fees and little regulation, and that this bill would be the "final move to push all the businesses here."
Michael Stabile, a spokesman for San Francisco-based Kink, says the group doesn’t want to move to Las Vegas, but the bill and ongoing pressure from state regulators would prevent them from producing films locally.
Hall dismissed these arguments as typical exaggerations by businesses in the face of safety regulations.
"Shame on this Legislature if we are now at a point where we are negotiating health and safety of our employees in California for green dollar bill," Hall said.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation says it would pursue film producers who leave California, with a much-debated argument that porn shoots are technically illegal in most states. Last fall, the group filed a complaint about an adult film made in Florida, where California porn makers outsourced unprotected sex scenes.
"No one who goes to work should have to sacrifice their health," said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
The bill now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where a similar one stalled last year.