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A weekly roundup of business-related bills, upcoming legislative issues, regulatory news and other developments of local interest.

March 14, 1997|Legi-Tech News Service

Senate to Address Bill on Truth in Advertising

A Marina del Rey Democrat wants to put the teeth back into California's "green marketing" law and hold companies accountable when they promote their products as environmentally friendly.

Seven years ago, the Democratic Legislature passed one of the toughest laws in the nation, requiring businesses that advertised their products as "biodegradable," "ozone-friendly" and so on to back up those claims by meeting specific standards outlined by the state.

A coalition of manufacturers and advertisers spent five years challenging the law in court, arguing that it violated their 1st Amendment right to free speech. Court rulings against them were upheld in 1995, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the legal challenges. But relief for industry came four days later, when Gov. Pete Wilson signed a law repealing the stringent provisions and allowing businesses to follow vague federal standards.

Environmentalists and manufacturers are expected to square off next month when a Senate committee considers SB 362 by Assemblywoman Debra Bowen. Her bill would make it a misdemeanor to advertise a product as "green" without meeting specific standards. Firms would also be prohibited from using certain marketing catch phrases without maintaining documentation that supports the claims.

SCORECARD: Waiting to Pass

Four months into its two-year session, the Legislature has passed just a dozen of the more than 3,000 bills introduced. The next round of formal bill introductions in the 1997-98 session will begin in December. Here's a look at where things stand:

* Last important deadline: Feb. 28, the last day for bills to be introduced in the first year of the legislative session.

* Number of bills introduced: 3,057

* Number of bills passed by the Legislature: 12

* Number of those bills signed by the governor: 11

* Next important deadline: April 25, the last day for legislative committees to act on bills that involve state money.

* Number of bills that involve state money: 2,054


* Sports Agents (SB 94)

Would require professional sports agents to register with the secretary of state. Their filings, which would be public record, would include names of all employees, partners and investors, any criminal convictions, a list of fees they charge and proof of insurance. The bill was passed unanimously Monday by the Senate Committee on Business and Professions. It is supported by the University of California system and USC to better regulate agents interested in student athletes. Author: Ruben Ayala (D-Rancho Cucamonga).

* Business Tax Cuts (AB 479)

Would lower bank and corporation tax rate by about 10% within two years, from the current 8.84% to 7.96%. The bill is sponsored by Gov. Pete Wilson, who pushed through a 5% bank and corporation tax cut last year. Author: Curt Pringle (R-Garden Grove).

* Security Guards (SB 243)

Would make it easier for police and other law enforcement officers to work as armed security guards while off duty. Would exempt police officers from the state licensing process required of security guards and would allow them to carry concealed weapons without obtaining a local concealed-weapons permit. The bill is supported by the security industry and law enforcement associations. Author: Steve Peace (D-San Diego)

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