Calif. Plastic Bag Ban Survives After All (As Do Other Bad Bills)


Tim Gunn does not approve of this outfit.
Credit: Heal the Bay / photo on flickr

After failing to get enough votes in the Assembly earlier in the week, California's plastic bag ban has managed to survive and pass a second vote. It doesn't appear that anybody actually made a better case for banning bags (probably because there really isn't a good reason for it). Rather, it appears the union that represents grocery workers dropped its resistance to the bill after some sort of deal with Safeway. Unions had resistant to the bill because the 10 cent fee for paper bags went to the grocery companies to do with as they choose (and presumably, not to the union members). There's no indication of what the deal is, but the United Food and Commercial Workers Union now supports the bill, and it passed the Assembly, 44-29. It still needs to pass the Senate before heading for Gov. Jerry Brown's signature.

In other state legislation, the California State Senate has passed the college "affirmative consent" law that requires colleges to implement a policy of requiring students to seek "affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity" if they want their government money. Time explains:

There is some disagreement in higher education about whether the affirmative consent standard is the best practice. Though many colleges have adopted it, Harvard recently rewrote its sexual assault policy without adopting an affirmative consent standard, to the dismay of women's advocates. Harvard's Title IX Officer, Mia Karvonides, said the school rejected such a policy because there is no "standard definition of affirmative consent," according to the student newspaper The Crimson. Critics of affirmative consent policies often point to an unrealistic set of standards set in 1991 by Antioch University in Ohio, which required verbal consent (excluding "moans") for "each new level" of sexual activity—a standard that doesn't reflect the real interactions between human beings during sex.

The California bill stops short of Antioch's standard.The bill's language clarifies the definition of consent by stating what it is not. "Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent," it reads. "Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent."

Reason Contributing Editor Cathy Young examined the problems with this kind of sexual nannyism here.

And finally (at least for this blog post—no doubt there will be future bad bills originating from California's legislature), the state is tripling the funding for the state's film tax credit program to $330 million a year. Is the state also cutting spending by $330 million to make up for it? Don't be silly. The Tax Foundation offers a simple primer as to why film tax credits don't really work as advertised:

In the last decade, state governments have enacted numerous movie production incentives (MPIs), including tax credits for film production. MPIs are popular with state officials and many of their constituents but often escape routine oversight about benefits, costs and activities. Based on fanciful estimates of economic activity and tax revenue, states invest in movie production projects with small returns and take unnecessary risks with taxpayer dollars.

MPIs fail to live up to their promises to encourage economic growth overall and to raise tax revenue. States claim MPIs create jobs, but the jobs created are mostly temporary positions—often transplanted from other states—with limited options for upward mobility. Furthermore, the competition among states transfers a large portion of potential gains to the movie industry, not to local businesses or state coffers.

In this case, California has been losing jobs to other states, so the tax credits are just a flat out bribe for industries to stay here. With this new money, the state is also eliminating its lottery system of distribution and will instead determine who gets tax credits based on how many jobs each production will create, which seems like it will heavily favor the major studios. The Los Angeles Times has more information here.

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  1. California – Derp and unions

  2. There’s no indication of what the deal is, but the United Food and Commercial Workers Union now supports the bill, and it passed the Assembly, 44-29.

    But remember, it’s the KOCHS that buy and control government. Because they got Scott Walker to raise money for one of their PACs, or something.

  3. Worry not, Think Progress helps us define what affirmative consent really means.

    Under an affirmative consent standard, on the other hand, both partners are required to pay more attention to whether they’re feeling enthusiastic about the sexual experience they’re having. There aren’t any assumptions about where the sexual encounter is going or whether both people are already on the same page. At its very basic level, this is the opposite of killing the mood ? it’s about making sure the person with whom you’re about to have sex is excited about having sex with you.

    So, not subjective at all.

    1. Furthermore –

      “Consent isn’t a question. It’s a state,” feminist writer Jaclyn Friedman, who wrote a book on enthusiastic consent, explained in a blog post back in 2010. “If, instead of lovers, the two of you were synchronized swimmers, consent would be the water. It’s not enough to jump in, get wet and climb out ? if you want to swim, you have to be in the water continually. And if you want to have sex, you have to be continually in a state of enthusiastic consent with your partner.”

      1. If the sex was boring, you were raped.

        1. Wow, talk about pressure to perform.

        2. Then I have been raped. I’VE BEEN RAPED!!!!

      2. So, at what rate should I poll my partner while I’m poleing her to ensure consent is maintained?

        1. It needs to be a continuous stream of consensual dirty talk.

          The second she stops repeating “fuck me with your big fat cock”, you need to pull out.

          1. What if her mouth is full? I think I’ll just rig up a traffic light system and give her a buzzer. While the lights green, keep plowing.

            1. A deadman switch. The problem is, teh bitch will simply drop it after she comes, leaving you high and dry.

              This was the plan all along.

              1. But it goes both ways, supposedly. So I can finish first and hit my “no” button which lights a neon sign that says ” how bout a sandwich”.

            2. I think the red/green card system from Brazilian steakhouses is more appropriate.

              Red = stop giving me that meat
              Green = keep giving me that meat

      3. How fucking hard is it to say “no” if you don’t like what is happening?

        And the enthusiasm part is just stupid. There are plenty of occasions and reasons where people might want to consent to sex that they aren’t completely enthusiastic about. Mutual enthusiastic consent is something you need to have really good sex (if you are a normal and decent person), but I don’t think that is what they had in mind when writing this law.

      4. And if you want to have sex, you have to be continually in a state of enthusiastic consent with your partner.

        But what if it’s enough already and I just wanna get some sleep?

  4. “Affirmative Consent” really is a search term rabbit hole into which you can dive and pull out all sorts of Mad Hatter insanity.

    Well, here’s the beauty of it. It isn’t, because people can always bargain around the law in private arrangements, and law provides a background rule. The person initiating has the obligation to secure consent. In the presence of enthusiastic participation, that person may be so clear on the existence of consent that they don’t need a verbal confirmation ? but they have to be willing to assume the risk of error. The non-initiator, if they are for example a survivor who freezes, faces serious consequences from a mistake, and the initiator faces serious consequences from a mistake theoretically (but not actually because there are no convictions in these situations). But the initiator is more able to avoid the mistake by checking for affirmative consent. As I recall, “stop if your partner goes limp” was a rule of Fight Club. If a bunch of guys fighting in a basement can observe that, we can expect it between sex partners, I should think.

    Got that? If your partner is a cold fish, you’re committing rape.

    1. At least maybe Californians will stop breeding.

    2. Does that mean if I just lie there I’m being raped? Because sometimes I’m just tired…

      1. Apparently, no.

  5. It can’t fall into the Pacific soon enough.

    1. Can the rest of the U.S. secede from California in the meantime?

  6. Back when we still had a physical law library, the California code was a ton of books. Some people just dismiss that because it’s a populous state, but that’s nonsense. It’s just a state with too many ridiculous laws.

    1. The logical conclusion of reacting to the consequences of shitty laws with more shitty laws is a totalitarian state where every nuance of daily life is codified by some legislation.

      They dictate how much water your toilet may hold, how many gallons per minute your shower may use, and now what kind of bags you may use at the grocery store.

      Legislators don’t want to go and repeal shitty laws because they don’t want future legislators to repeal their laws.

      So they just keep writing and writing and writing, creating a totalitarian state.

  7. The Jezebel discussion is enlightening, if just for examining the language they choose. The comments indicate that you just need to openly ask:

    “Can I fuck you?”

    before beginning. But note the choice of words. In their eyes, by default, it’s an aggressive act performed by one individual against another. Not “Can we fuck?” or “Let’s get it on.”, but “Can I fuck you?”.

  8. Unions had resistant to the bill

    Had resistant? Er, what?

  9. I guess it’s only a matter of time until I need to have Mills Lane in my bedroom officiating the proceedings.

    1. Let’s get it on!

      1. Let’s get ready to tuuuuuumble !!!

  10. better alt-text: I’m not garbage. I’m an amendment to be, an amendment to be, and I’m hoping that they ratify me.

  11. Re movie tax incentives, politicians like them for the same reason they like to be associated with sports stadiums, convention centers, large business locations openings, and big construction projects. They want to be associated with popular stuff, and giving money is a way to get more association with popular movie makers and movie stars and to have your locale featured in the background of a movie with a plot set in NY or LA.

    Or sometimes you get a production that’s officially set in your one-horse state because of the tax incentives. Then you get to be proud that for most people Albuquerque is now strongly associated with meth wars, solely because you gave millions to AMC to produce that image of you.

  12. The United Food and Commercial Workers went from endorsing the plastic-bag law to neutral when they found out they weren’t getting the dime for the paper bags the customers would have to buy — and the bill failed 37-33. Then the UFCW cut some sort of deal, endorsed the bill, and it passed 44-29.

    In a properly run state, that vote shift would identify at least seven legislators who should be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail as slavish servants of the union. In California, probably not.

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