NATIONAL NEWS

California lawmakers OK bills banning certain chemicals in foods and drinks

Sep 12, 2023, 5:13 PM

State Sen. Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, works at his desk during the Senate session at the Capitol in Sac...

State Sen. Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, works at his desk during the Senate session at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. Lawmakers are voting on hundreds of bills before the legislative session concludes for the year on Thursday. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers are working through hundreds of bills before the legislative session ends on Thursday.

If approved, the bills go to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who will have until Oct. 14 to decide whether to sign them into law, veto them or let them become law without his signature.

The state Legislature almost never overrides a veto from the governor, no matter what political party is in charge.

CHEMICALS IN FOOD

Lawmakers on Tuesday voted to become the first state to ban four chemicals from processed food and drinks sold in California by 2027.

The chemicals — red dye no. 3, potassium bromate, brominated vegetable oil and propyl paraben — are still used in popular products like Peeps, the popular marshmallow chicks most associated with Easter.

Democratic Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, the author of the bill, said those chemicals have already been banned by the European Union and other countries because of scientific research linking them to health problems, including cancer.

“It is unacceptable that the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to food safety,” Gabriel said. “This bill will not ban any foods or products — it simply will require food companies to make minor modifications to their recipes.”

An earlier version of the bill would also have banned titanium dioxide, which is used in Skittles. But amendments in the state Senate removed that chemical from the ban.

DISCLOSING FINANCIAL RISKS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

The state Assembly approved a bill requiring companies making more than $500 million annually to disclose what financial risks climate change poses to their businesses and how they plan to address those risks.

State Sen. Henry Stern, a Democrat from Los Angeles who introduced the legislation, said the information would be useful for individuals and lawmakers when making public and private investment decisions. The bill was changed recently to require companies to begin reporting the information in 2026, instead of 2024, and mandate that they report every other year, instead of annually.

The changes would help make it more feasible for businesses to follow through with reporting requirements, said Anne DiGrazia, a spokesperson for Stern.

The bill was among the biggest climate proposals in the state Legislature this year, collecting support from major companies including IKEA and Microsoft, as well as former California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols.

Opponents of the bill say it would be too burdensome for companies and is premature. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission could approve rules requiring public companies to disclose their direct and indirect emissions, as well as how climate risk affects their business.

The proposed California mandate would apply to more than 10,000 companies, according to Ceres, a policy group supporting it. The vote comes after the state Legislature sent another bill to Newsom that would require companies making more than $1 billion annually to report their direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions.

CLIMATE CHANGE SCHOOL CURRICULUM The Senate passed a bill that would require schools to teach students, from first grade through high school, about the causes and effects of climate change. The bill also would mandate lessons on how to mitigate and adapt to the effects of the changing climate.

Proponents of the bill say lessons about climate change are already a part of school curricula in other countries including Italy and New Zealand. Oregon also introduced legislation this year to mandate climate change lessons, but the bill did not advance.

It would still need final approval in the Assembly before ending up on Newsom’s desk.

CANNABIS CAFES

The Legislature sent a bill to Newsom’s desk that could create more so-called “cannabis cafes,” inspired by establishments in Amsterdam where customers can socialize and purchase cannabis, coffee and other products.

The bill would allow local governments to give licenses to cannabis dispensaries to sell non-cannabis food, beverages and tickets to live music events.

Democratic Assemblymember Matt Haney of San Francisco, who introduced the bill, said it would give a boost to small cannabis businesses. He said many people want to be able to socialize and listen to live music while consuming cannabis.

“There’s absolutely no good reason from an economic, health or safety standpoint that the state should make that illegal,” Haney said in a statement.

___ Sophie Austin is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Austin @sophieadanna

National News

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan speaks to employees in Washington, Thur...

Associated Press

EPA awards $4.3 billion to fund projects in 30 states to reduce climate pollution

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is awarding $4.3 billion in grants to fund projects in 30 states to reduce climate pollution. The money will go to 25 projects targeting greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, electric power, commercial and residential buildings, industry, agriculture and waste and materials management. The grants are paid for by […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Stock market today: Asian shares fall after Wall St ends worst week; Biden withdraw from 2024 race

Asian stocks were mostly lower Monday after President Joe Biden exited the 2024 race. The downbeat start to the week followed losses Friday on Wall Street as businesses around the world scrambled to contain disruptions from a massive technology outage. U.S. futures were little changed and oil prices rose. Biden announced his withdrawal from the […]

7 hours ago

FILE - San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris poses for a portrait in San Francisco, June 18...

Associated Press

Vice President Kamala Harris leads list of contenders for spots on the Democratic ticket

President Joe Biden’s decision to step down as the Democratic Party’s nominee for president opens the door for other contenders to become the Democratic nominee in November. The president has thrown his support behind Vice President Kamala Harris, and other prominent Democrats moved quickly to rally around her candidacy, but it’s unclear just how smooth […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Alaska police and US Coast Guard searching for missing plane with 3 people onboard

Alaska authorities are conducting a search for a missing airplane with three people onboard. Alaska State Troopers received a report from the U.S. Coast Guard of a missing plane shortly before 7:30 p.m. Saturday, the state Department of Public Safety said in a statement. The single-propeller, 1948 Beach Craft Bonanza was flying near Mount Crillon […]

7 hours ago

Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, arrives to speak at a campaign event ...

Associated Press

JD Vance makes solo debut as GOP vice presidential candidate with Monday rallies in Virginia, Ohio

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (AP) — To move overnight to set up Monday rally. Republican JD Vance will make his first solo appearances on the campaign trail Monday, a day after the 2024 presidential race was thrown into upheaval as President Joe Biden dropped out of the race, making the Democratic candidate an open question. Vance, an […]

7 hours ago

FILE - Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and President Joe Biden arrive for an event in the East ...

Associated Press

Takeaways from a day that fundamentally changed the presidential race

President Joe Biden’s abrupt decision to bow out of the presidential race and endorse Vice President Kamala Harris to be the Democratic candidate against former President Donald Trump caused a political earthquake on Sunday. It also changes the contours of a presidential race — which most voters said they did not want to see — […]

7 hours ago

California lawmakers OK bills banning certain chemicals in foods and drinks