The California Legislature is quickly approaching its first significant bill deadline for 2014. Bills that failed to pass the house where they originated in 2013 will face an end-of-month deadline. However, legislation that has a fiscal cost associated must pass a Jan. 24 deadline.
The California Restaurant Association (CRA) fought hard to prevent outstanding legislation that would be detrimental to the food and beverage industry from moving forward. Victories secured so far include:
• Food packaging ban defeated: SB 529 by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would have created restrictive and unworkable packaging standards for quickservice restaurants.
• Food regulation bill defeated: SB 747 by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) would have charged the Department of Public Health with identifying the largest manufacturers of consumer products, including food and beverages, that contribute to federally-recognized public health epidemics. Additionally, the bill would have required the department to prepare a risk assessment analysis identifying the impacts resulting from the sale of the product and provide a list of mitigation strategies to reduce any impacts they deemed negative, which could include suggested fees and taxes on specific products.
• “Sweetened beverage tax” stalled: SB 622 by Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) imposes a $0.01 per fluid ounce tax on every distributor of sweetened beverages. This measure suffered a key setback as it was held in the Senate Appropriations committee and, should it move forward later in the year, will need a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.