SACRAMENTO, Calif. — 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.
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.
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