By: Tyler Wood

The Greensheets issue of The University of the Pacific Law Review (UPLR) is a time honored tradition at McGeorge School of Law. It traces its history back to 1969, when Volume 1 critiqued legislation signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan. We’re now on Volume 48. Greensheets is more than just the most popular Law Review issue of the year, but it’s also one the most widely read issues of any law review in the country by state legislators, judges, and lobbyists.

So what is Greensheets, exactly? Authoring the Introduction to UPLR’s first volume (then known as the Pacific Law Journal), Earl Warren, then Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and former Governor of California captured the enduring vision that still guides our work today, saying in part:

“Without detailed information on the legislative history of a given bill, the courts, of necessity, are left to their own resources to determine the rationale underlying a particular statute. It is such information, together with a critical analysis of newly enacted legislation, which the Pacific Law Journal intends to provide. For that reason, I believe it to be a welcome addition to the field of jurisprudence, and I extend to the staff of the Journal my best wishes for a successful endeavor.”

Today on the podcast, I recap the bills In Session covered this year and provide updates on whether each bill ultimately became law. Thank you so much for following these blog posts and listening to our podcast this season. Stay tuned next fall to hear a new host talk about a new group of bills with a new group of staff-writers. And make sure to check out all of our episodes from Season 1. The bills we looked at this year were:

Episode 1: SB 258 – Cleaning Product Labeling

Episode 2: AB 954 – Food Labeling

Episodes 3 & 4: SB 10 – Bail

Episode 5: AB 1008 – Employment Discrimination

Episode 6: Nevada AB 391 – Bestiality

Episode 7: AB 1528 – Cannabis

Episode 8: AB 1227 – Human Trafficking

Episode 9: SB 33 – Arbitration Clauses

Episode 10: SB 54 – Sanctuary State

Tyler Wood is the Chief Legislation Editor for the University of the Pacific Law Review and law student student at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.

By: Dylan de Wit

California currently faces a major public education crisis. Similar to the housing crisis, California’s teacher supply has failed to meet demand, resulting in severe teacher shortages throughout the state. Seventy-five percent of school districts are understaffed, particularly with regard to fully-credentialed teachers. Compounding this problem is California’s affordable housing crisis. Housing supply has stagnated, rental prices have skyrocketed, and many Californians have been priced out of their homes and cities. These two crises seemed to intersect in late 2016, when the San Francisco Chronicle reported Etoria Cheeks, a local math teacher, fell into homelessness after being priced out of affordable housing in the city. Many viewed Ms. Cheeks’ story as a part of a larger problem, and began calling for action to better secure affordable housing for the state’s teachers.

Accordingly, Assembly Member Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) authored AB 45, which sought to create a development grant program for school districts to offer district-owned affordable rental housing to teachers. The program was framed not as an affordable housing project, however, but a recruitment and retention tool for school districts struggling to staff highly-qualified teachers. Under the program, school districts partnering with developers could secure pre-development funding and development loans to build on-site housing. The goal was to establish affordable rental options, incentivizing new highly-qualified teachers to work in districts they would otherwise avoid due to high rental costs.

AB 45 laid out specific criteria for school districts vying for development funding. Namely, prospective districts had to be in high-rent, hard-to-staff regions. Further, districts needed to have high rates of teachers employed under “emergency credentials,” teachers instructing courses outside their competency, and students on free and reduced lunch program. The bill also sets out development criteria for developers partnering with school districts. For instance, projects must be near public transportation, and must be subject to a project labor agreement (PLA).

Although AB 45 represented a creative approach by the state to staff school districts with high-quality teachers, several provisions suggest its effect may have been minimal. First, the program would have started at $25 million, which was likely enough for only a few projects. Further, AB 45’s PLA provision seemed misplaced given their tendency of PLA’s raise costs on development. Additionally, the program’s criteria suggested it would predominantly benefit urban areas over rural, even though California’s teacher shortage affects both urban and rural school districts equally.

AB 45 passed in September. Governor Brown vetoed the bill, however, citing existing legislation that served a similar purpose.  It should also be noted that because AB 45 did not make building housing easier for California developers, Governor Brown was  not likely to support the bill from the start.

Nonetheless, similar developments and programs showed significant success in attracting teachers, with most developments being either completely full or waitlisted. This suggests that AB 45 may have been effective for at least a few districts that met the restrictive criteria, and could afford the projects given the program’s limited funds. With some adjustment and perhaps additional funding, a program similar to AB 45 may eventually prove a valuable tool for school districts looking to recruit and retain highly-qualified teachers.

Dylan de Wit is a staff writer for the University of the Pacific Law Review and law student student at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.

By: Megan McCauley

SB 54, which has been referred to as the “highest-profile act of defiance to Trump’s nascent presidency,” is indicative of the many ways in which opposition parties have declared war against President Trump’s immigration policies. It is a targeted response to the overlap between federal immigration enforcement and state and local law enforcement. SB 54, also known as the California Values Act, was introduced by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León in an attempt to build a “wall of justice” that would “protect the safety, well-being, and constitutional rights of the people of California, and … direct the state’s limited resources to matters of greatest concern to state and local governments.”

SB 54 prohibits California law enforcement agencies (LEAs) from using agency resources, including money and personnel, to “investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes.” State and local LEAs may not, for example, inquire into a person’s immigration status, detain an individual based on an ICE hold request, arrest individuals based on civil immigration warrants, or perform the functions of an immigration officer. Furthermore, SB 54 creates “safe zones” by requiring all public schools, public libraries, state-operated health facilities, courthouses, and shelters to adopt policies that limit collaboration with immigration enforcement “to the fullest extent possible.” By creating these “safe zones,” SB 54 guarantees immigrants the ability to access these vital services without having to fear deportation.

Several important considerations surround the adoption of SB 54, including: whether the bill will be enough to strengthen the relationship between immigrant communities and local law enforcement, and how it will shift local and state resources away from immigration enforcement and towards protecting communities. SB 54 also invites preemption issues along with state sovereignty and Tenth Amendment concerns. Finally, SB 54 may have a significant fiscal impact in light of federal threats to withhold funding from sanctuary jurisdictions because California expects to receive $105 billion from the federal government next year.

Proponents of SB 54 emphasize that the new law will help protect the safety of all Californians by building trust in the community. They emphasize that sanctuary cities usually correlate with lower crime rates. In support of that position, the Center for American Progress reported that there are 33.5 fewer crimes committed per 10,000 people in sanctuary counties compared to non-sanctuary counties. In response to concerns over preemption, supporters emphasize that SB 54 is merely an exercise of state sovereignty and falls squarely within the state’s police power.

On the other hand, opponents argue that the law might actually make the situation more dangerous because it will force ICE onto the streets. While the likelihood of this consequence was mitigated by last-minute amendments that eliminated serious restrictions on ICE’s ability to access prisons and jails, SB 54 will likely result in an uptick of ICE raids because of the new hurdles to collaborating with state and local law enforcement.

SB 54 was signed into law by the Governor on October 5, 2017.

To learn more about SB 54, listen to my interview on “In Session,” a podcast from the University of the Pacific Law Review.

Megan McCauley is a staff writer for the University of the Pacific Law Review and law student student at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.

By: Kim Barnes

After managing to keep its scam under wraps for at least a decade, it came to light that Wells Fargo was ripping off its customers by opening fake accounts in their name and charging them for the fees associated with those accounts. It was all part of a culture of overworking bank employees and pressuring them to meet unrealistic sales goals in an effort to increase Wells Fargo’s stock value. Making matters worse, when defrauded customers tried suing the bank, Wells Fargo would block their access to the courts by enforcing the arbitration clause that many of the customers had agreed to when first opening a bank account. By enforcing these clauses, Wells Fargo could funnel all complaints regarding its deceptive practices into private arbitration, where it would never have to answer to either a judge or a jury.

Arbitration clauses are increasingly universal—nestled in every kind of consumer contract you could imagine—ranging from nursing home contracts to student loan agreements. These clauses, which don’t need to say too much more than “I agree to arbitrate any dispute that arises between me and the corporation,” have quickly become ubiquitous as the corporate “get out of jail free card.”

This is not because arbitration is a slam dunk, per se, for a company like Wells Fargo when up against an individual customer. Arguably, however, the disparity in bargaining power between parties to a dispute has a more material effect on the outcome in arbitration than in traditional litigation. This is understandable. Traditional litigation can be far lengthier and costlier than arbitrating the same dispute; corporations that settle their claims in arbitration likely benefit from a repeat player advantage—that is, the benefit of being familiar with not only the process of arbitrating disputes, but also with individual arbitrators themselves. Statistically, this has made the arbitration process highly pro-corporate and has deterred many customers with small claims from bringing them in the first place.

Unfortunately, even when the dispute involves a corporation defrauding customers and stealing their identity, judges are almost always left with little choice but to enforce an arbitration clause if there is one. This is because over the past three decades, the federal law on arbitration—the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA)—has been interpreted so broadly by the Supreme Court that not only does the FAA now have broad preemptive authority over conflicting state laws, but judges are now instructed to “rigorously” enforce arbitration clauses, even if the underlying contract itself is potentially void. This interpretation allowed Wells Fargo to easily circumvent public courtroom scrutiny and opt for a more favorable, private arbitration tribunal.

SB 33 added one exception to the court’s general obligation to compel arbitration where there is one that covers the dispute. With the passage of the bill, a court can refuse to compel arbitration where the petitioner is a financial institution and the claim being brought involves fraud and identity theft by that financial institution.

This extremely narrow law was unsurprisingly attacked by the usual barrage of banks and chambers of commerce, which, to be fair, raised a valid criticism. SB 33, when viewed in light of the broad and highly criticized jurisprudence pertaining to arbitration, is susceptible to a preemption challenge. Indeed, the Supreme Court has found that the FAA preempts practically any state law that goes against the goals of arbitration, limits the validity of arbitration clauses, or treats arbitration clauses differently than any other provision in a contract. This is precisely what SB 33 does.

However, what is clear is that it will be difficult to argue that preventing defrauded Americans from going to court is good public policy. Whether the banks and public interest groups seek to challenge this law to the furthest extent is unclear; but if they do, with any hope the outcome will be a shift towards narrowing the FAA back to the law Congress intended almost 100 years ago. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend anyone hold their breath on that.

To learn more about SB 33, listen to my interview on “In Session,” a podcast from the University of the Pacific Law Review.

Kim Barnes is a staff writer for the University of the Pacific Law Review and law student student at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.

By: Shelby Lundahl

Human trafficking is a $32 billion global industry that transverses national boundaries. It is a problem that exists in every state in the U.S., and California is one of the largest sites of human trafficking in the nation. That may be due to a number of factors, including California’s vast size, large population, and international border. In 2016 alone, there were 1,322 reported cases of human trafficking, which is a fraction of the true number of cases. Most cases go unreported due to fear of the trafficker, fear of law enforcement, or a sense of hopelessness. Even so, the number of reported cases of human trafficking has swung up and down over the past five years. Human trafficking is a widespread problem and difficult to recognize, prompting California lawmakers to introduce Assembly Bill 1227 earlier this year to attack the problem head-on.

AB 1227 seeks to spread awareness of human trafficking and implement prevention measures in local communities. It directly targets the segment of the population most vulnerable to being trafficked – children ages nine to eighteen. Assembly Members Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) and Evan Low (D-Campbell) introduced the legislation, which quickly gained full bipartisan support. AB 1227 makes human trafficking education and training mandatory in public middle schools and high schools in California.

The training has a three-fold approach. First, the education program aims to deliver comprehensive prevention education and training procedures on human trafficking. The information will allow teachers, administrators, and students to become aware and begin to develop an understanding of human trafficking. Second, it helps students recognize signs of human trafficking, which include force, fraud, and coercion. And finally, the education will help students avoid becoming victims themselves. Human traffickers use subtle and clever tactics to lure children in – such as using other young people to befriend these children, offering jobs that seem too good to be true, or pretending to be romantically interested in these children – making it critically important that students can recognize these tactics and extract themselves from the situation.

AB 1227 had widespread support from school districts, faith-based organizations, teachers, labor unions, and district attorneys’ offices across the state. Although there are no exact numbers, AB 1227 is expected to cost approximately $20,000 to develop the training curriculum and approximately $5 million to provide the training to the teachers and school district personnel across the state. Teachers will receive continuation training, as necessary, which ensures the information being presented to the students is up-to-date. Further, the different agencies and offices who encounter young children – such as: child welfare agencies, public health departments, sheriff’s departments, and juvenile courts – are encouraged to work together to develop intervention programs. Once the curriculum is developed and implemented, the number of potential reporters and people on the lookout for human trafficking will increase and hopefully lead to an end to this horrific form of modern-day slavery.

To learn more about AB 1227, listen to my interview on “In Session,” a podcast from the University of the Pacific Law Review.

Shelby Lundahl is a staff writer for the University of the Pacific Law Review and law student student at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.

By: Trevor Wong

In 1996, Californians passed Prop 215 allowing qualified medical patients the right to cultivate and possess marijuana. In 2016, Californians passed Prop 64 allowing adults over the age of 21 to use marijuana recreationally. In the twenty intervening years, the Obama Administration gave California and other states assurances that if they developed a robust regulatory and enforcement system for medical or recreational adult use of marijuana, residents who complied with state laws and regulations would have a reasonable expectation that they would not be subject to harassment, arrest or incarceration by the federal government. Under those assurances, California’s marijuana industry flourished, growing into a multibillion-dollar industry. Security and continued growth, however, depends on whether the Trump Administration continues Obama era policies.

While campaigning, President Trump never made his stance on marijuana clear. At times, he said that marijuana legalization should be left to the states, while at other times, he claimed that Colorado’s legal marijuana industry was a “real problem.” When Trump appointed Jeff Sessions (a staunch anti-drug crusader) as Attorney General many saw it as a signal that the administration might eventually reverse the Obama-era policies and begin greater enforcement of federal marijuana laws in California and nationwide.

To mitigate the risk of such a policy reversal, Assembly Member Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) proposed AB 1578. The bill would have prohibited state and local law enforcement agencies from taking certain actions unless federal authorities first obtained a court order. Some of the actions prohibited without a court order include: using agency money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, obtain information, or arrest a person for cannabis activity that is authorized or allowed under California law.

The bill drew opposition from law enforcement organizations and a major local government group. Both were concerned that the bill, by needlessly preventing cooperation between federal and state officials, would place California in violation of federal law and would lead to inefficiencies not present under the current law. But those concerns may be overstated because AB 1578 would not have prevented all cooperation. On the contrary, cooperation would still be lawful whenever federal authorities obtained a court order. Moreover, under AB 1578, federal authorities would still be able to enforce federal drug laws related to marijuana in California themselves. They simply would not be able to use California resources to enforce those laws.

Another major concern was that federal law would preempt AB 1578. But because the federal government cannot force state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal law in the first place, it is likely that AB 1578 would have withstood a preemption challenge because it would merely have codified the already-existing right of state and local law enforcement agencies to not affirmatively assist the federal government in enforcing federal law.

Ultimately, AB 1578 did not pass. But that does not necessarily spell disaster for California’s marijuana economy. Because the federal government cannot force state and local law enforcement authorities to enforce federal law, even without this bill, local law enforcement is not obligated to assist federal authorities in enforcing federal marijuana law. So to the extent state and local law enforcement simply refuse to help federal authorities, the goal of this bill can be achieved, despite the fact the legislature did not pass the bill. In addition, although the Trump administration’s position on the issue is still unclear, for the time being, marijuana users in California do not have to worry about federal prosecution because the Obama-era policies are still in effect. Nonetheless, the risk that the Trump administration will reverse Obama-era policies remains, and California residents will remain in limbo until the Trump administration makes its intentions clear one way or the other.

To learn more about AB 1528, check out my interview on “In Session,” a podcast from the University of the Pacific Law Review.

Trevor Wong is a staff writer for the University of the Pacific Law Review and law student student at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.

By: Michael Hopkins

If you’ve applied for a job, you’ve likely seen the box. Have you ever been convicted of a felony? For many people, this box is no big deal, you check no and you move on with the rest of the application. For those people with a criminal conviction, however, this box is much more than part of a job application—it can be the barrier to employment.

This is the position taken by the sponsors and supporters of AB 1008. Supporters point to stories of individuals with convictions being unable to find a job. They also point to studies in which employers say they would rather hire any other stigmatized group of people before formerly convicted people. AB 1008 supporters claim the felony conviction box on job applications allows employers to summarily deny jobs to a whole class of people without meeting them, without interviews, and without giving them a chance.

Assembly Members from northern and southern California came together to sponsor the bill; those members were: Assembly Members McCarty (D-Sacramento), Weber (D-San Diego), Holden (D-Pasadena), Gipson (D-Carson), and Reyes (D-Colton).

AB 1008 bans the conviction box from job applications. Any employer with five or more employees, including private employers, is prohibited from asking any question seeking disclosure of an applicant’s conviction history on a job application.

AB 1008 does more than just affect job applications; the bill also prevents employers from looking into or asking about an applicant’s conviction history until after a conditional offer of employment is made. In practice, this means that an employer cannot run a criminal background check on an applicant until the employer gives the conditional offer of employment. Basically, the employer says we want to hire you for this job, but we’ll first look into your background first.

The delaying of criminal background checks is designed to give all applicants, including those with conviction history, a chance to engage and build some rapport with the employer. Studies have demonstrated that formerly convicted people can explain their past convictions and highlight their positive qualities during an interview. This provision of AB 1008—the delaying of a criminal background check—is designed to give formerly convicted applicants that chance.

If after running the criminal background check the employer finds a conviction that causes it to believe the applicant should not be hired, AB 1008 imposes notification and procedural requirements on the employer. The employer must make an individualized assessment of whether the conviction history justifies rescinding the conditional offer. The employer must also notify the applicant and give them at least five business days to respond to the rescission. This response period may be extended another five business days.

The employer must consider any information submitted by the applicant before finalizing the decision. The employer must also notify the applicant if the rescission is finalized.

AB 1008’s opponents claim the bill adds delays and expenses to the hiring process. AB 1008 certainly adds steps to the hiring process, such as the notification requirements. Further delays and expenses can come in the form of the required individualized assessment.

Opponents also point to the bill’s impacts on employer liability. Employers can be sued by hiring a person with a violent history or tendencies who later injures or harms another. Employers reduce the chances of hiring these people by running background checks. By placing limits on background checks, the argument is that employers will lose this tool used to reduce liability.

Despite the opposition, AB 1008 made its way through the California Legislature. The bill passed both the Assembly and Senate and is now on Governor Brown’s desk. Governor Brown has until October 15, 2017 to act on the bill.

To learn more about AB 1008, check out my interview on “In Session,” a podcast from the University of the Pacific Law Review, here.

Michael Hopkins is a staff writer for the University of the Pacific Law Review and law student student at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.

By: Kyle Harrison

When the police arrest someone on suspicion of committing a crime, the person is brought to jail. In an ideal criminal justice system, the person would be given a trial the next day where a judge and jury determine the defendant’s guilt.  This is not the system we currently have. Individuals are arrested and can wait months – and sometimes years – for criminal trials to take place. Our jails do not have the resources to keep all these defendants incarcerated before trial.

Bail is a common law relic, created during the Middle Ages in England with the intent of keeping jail populations low and ensuring a defendant’s return to court. Critics argue the problem with the bail system is that it allows the defendant’s release and return for trial only if that person can afford bail. Under the current system, judges look to bail schedules to decide the amount of bail for defendants. Judges have to make a quick assessment of whether to set bail and how much it should be. Currently the average bail amount in California is $50,000, and at least 10% of the total amount must be posted in order to make bail. Therefore the average amount necessary to make bail is $5,000. According to a 2016 report by the U.S. Federal Reserve, 46% of Americans do not have even $400 to pay for an emergency payment. Thus, even if bail is set at $1000 or $500, let alone $5000, many people simply do not have sufficient funds available to afford the $500 to post bail. Critics of the current bail system argue that the problem with the bail system is that it allows the defendant’s release and return for trial only if that person can afford bail  and that it results in lower income defendants remaining incarcerated while those with greater financial means are able to buy their freedom.

Because many defendants cannot afford bail under the current system, the majority of jail detainees are not serving sentences. Indeed, 66% of California’s jail population is awaiting trial. Close to 50,000 defendants who have not yet been convicted of a crime and are presumed innocent are being detained. This pretrial detention can be more than an inconvenience for the poor, and can lead to them losing their property, their jobs, even their children. Lengthy pretrial detention has also been shown to increase the chances of recidivism when the individuals are released. Many of them pose no public safety threat or flight risk. They simply lack the money to afford bail.

These are the problems that SB 10 aims to fix. Under the current language, SB 10 mandates the creation of pretrial agencies in every county in California. These pretrial agencies will be tasked with gathering information on new arrestees and conducting risk assessments that will be given to the judge with a tailored recommendation for each defendant, advising release or detention. The recommendation’s primary concern will be the safety of the public and the victim(s) and the flight risk of the defendant. The agencies will also be tasked with supervision of the released pretrial defendants and will remind them of court dates. This new proposed system would also assess the safety of the individuals and release those who are deemed safe without regard to a defendant’s financial means. This bill, however, does not eliminate the option of money bail—it allows judges to keep their discretion to apply money bail when deemed necessary. After much debate and many amendments, SB 10 has been turned into a two-year bill, meaning that if passed and signed into law, this will occur in 2018. This means that at least some of the bill’s language will likely change, so it is unclear exactly how the language of the bill will ultimately read.

There is significant debate on whether the goals of the bill can be met without jeopardizing public safety. According to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, SB 10 will likely cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually for counties to establish and operate the pretrial agencies including the additional requirements under the bill. The bill’s proponents, however, claim there will be significant future savings from no longer needlessly incarcerating thousands of Californians. Opponents argue the cost of creating, training, and maintaining the pretrial agencies will be high and that SB 10 will eliminate thousands of jobs in the bail industry in California. Now that the authors have turned SB 10 into a two-year bill, giving the legislature until September 2018 to pass it, they have gained the support of Gov. Jerry Brown and Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. Such support makes the chances of passing the bill next year very good.

To learn more about SB 10, listen to both parts of two-part interview on “In Session,” a podcast by the University of the Pacific Law Review.

Kyle Harrison is a staff writer for the University of the Pacific Law Review and law student student at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.

By: Nolan Kessler

The amount of energy, land, water, and money spent on wasted food in the United States is staggering. Specifically, Americans waste “four percent of the [national] energy budget, about 12 percent of the land . . . 23 percent of all freshwater,” and $162 billion each year on uneaten food. Confusing food date labeling is partly to blame for some of this food waste. Up to “90 percent of [Americans] discard some food prematurely as a result of misinterpreting food date labels.” I examined AB 954, which created a uniform food date labeling system in California. Its goal is to reduce consumer confusion around food date labels and cut down on food waste.

To accomplish its goals, AB 954 requires the California Department of Food and Agriculture (DFA) “to publish information to encourage food manufacturers, processors, and retailers responsible for the labeling of food products to voluntarily use . . . uniform terms on food product labels to communicate quality dates and safety dates.” These uniform terms are “BEST if USED by” or “BEST if Used or Frozen by,” which both “indicate the quality date of a product,” and “USE by” or “USE by or Freeze by,” which both “indicate the safety date of a product.” Further, AB 954 requires the DFA to promote this voluntary food date labeling system “in the course of its existing interactions with food date manufacturers, processors, and retailers.” Finally, AB 954 allows the DFA to “accept nonstate funds from public and private sources to educate consumers about the meaning of the quality dates and safety dates.”

I analyzed AB 954’s likely impact by exploring how the legislation interacts with a similar industry-led food date labeling initiative announced by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) in February 2017. For example, even though the industry started implementing its initiative before the California Legislature began considering AB 954, the legislation remains significant because it will reach entities in the industry that do not belong to the FMI or GMA. Additionally, the DFA can leverage its regulatory and advisory programs, such as its Inspection Service Programs and Marketing Branch, to reach the food industry and convince the industry to adopt AB 954’s food date labeling system. Further, the DFA can use the funding AB 954 authorizes to collaborate with the food industry and nonprofits on consumer education campaigns.

Finally, in the hopes of encouraging stakeholders to build on the momentum created by AB 954, I offered other food waste reduction solutions that consumer-facing businesses, consumers, and governments should consider adopting. Some of these solutions include investing in waste tracking capabilities, embracing imperfect produce, and subsidizing food donation transportation. In the end, by taking a collaborative approach and attacking food waste from these multiple angles, Americans can begin eradicating the food waste epidemic.

To learn more about AB 954, listen to my interview on “In Session,” a podcast by the University of the Pacific Law Review.

Nolan Kessler is a staff writer for the University of the Pacific Law Review and law student student at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.

By: Libby Grotewohl

Do you know what ingredients are in the cleaning products you use throughout your home? When asked that question, most of us would refer to the ingredient list on the product’s label. However, like most Americans, you may be surprised to find no ingredient list on nearly all cleaning product labels.

That’s because no federal or state law currently exists requiring the manufacturers of cleaning products to disclose product ingredients. Cleaning product manufacturers have skirted ingredient disclosure requirements by arguing for the protection of their coveted trade secrets. Nevertheless, as evidence surfaces indicating that the chemicals used in many cleaning products are potentially harmful to humans, many consumers and domestic workers who use these products everyday are demanding full disclosure. In response, Senator Ricardo Lara introduced Senate Bill 258, the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017, aimed at placing more stringent disclosure requirements on the manufacturers of cleaning products.

SB 258 would require cleaning product manufacturers to list all potentially hazardous chemicals existing in a product on the product’s label. By utilizing pictograms and directing consumers to the manufacturer’s website for more information, SB 258 is seen as a “critical first step” towards the betterment of human health and the environment. To protect trade secrets, manufacturers are not required to provide ingredient weight, however, they must utilize an ingredient’s Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number and the proper ingredient name. SB 258 would require all employers to create and provide employees with Safety Data Sheets which will list pertinent information on all ingredients contained in any cleaning products used in the workplace.

Supporters of SB 258 –  which include more than 80 environmental groups, labor unions, healthcare providers and “green” cleaning product manufacturers –  argue consumers and domestic workers have a right to know what is in the cleaning products they use every day. With the emergence of “green” cleaning products that fully disclose ingredients, supporters argue that transparency will be necessary for manufacturers to remain relevant in the industry. As large manufacturers like Clorox have begun voluntarily disclosing ingredients on their websites, proponents assert that such disclosure requirements should be imposed on the manufacturers of all products that consumers and domestic workers encounter.

Those opposing SB 258 argue it takes the wrong approach. One notable argument is that the majority of consumers and domestic workers are not chemists. Thus, if most consumers and domestic workers have no knowledge of the chemicals listed, SB 258’s efforts may be futile. Or worse, they argue, for those who take the time to research the ingredients by visiting the manufacturer’s website, SB 258’s requirements may needlessly concern consumers and domestic workers of harms that the products do not in fact present. Further, by requiring manufacturers to invest in research, testing, and development to adequately disclose ingredients, the cost of cleaning products could potentially increase. By offering no alternative approach, opponents essentially argue that labeling will not bring about any change in the industry, and, thus, is not necessary.

Despite this opposition, SB 258 continues to push on and was just heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. As Senator Lara explains, “[w]e’ve all heard the expression that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act will shine a light on the products families and workers use every day.”

To learn more about SB 258, check out my interview on “In Session,” a podcast from the University of the Pacific Law Review.

Libby Grotewohl is a staff writer for the University of the Pacific Law Review and law student student at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.