Politics trumping policy on toxic chemicals bill?

Activists including a mother of the online organizing movement will be outside the downtown Oakland office of state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, today demanding a floor vote on AB 706, a bill that would ban toxic flame retardants from furniture and bedding effective Jan. 1, 2010 while updating fire-safety standards.

Speakers at the noon rally outside the state office building at 1515 Clay St. will include Joan Blades of Berkeley, co-founder of online political organizing powerhouse MoveOn.org as well as the founder of MomsRising; and Mary Brune of Alameda, founder of Making Our Milk Safe (MOMS).

The activists say brominated and chlorinated flame retardants have been linked to health effects including reproductive and neurological problems, endocrine disruption, and cancer; elevated rates of certain cancers among firefighters are believed to be a result of chemical exposure from smoke and soot created when these products burn. Thus far, AB 706 is being held in the Senate Appropriations Committee; if it doesn’t get out by Tuesday, it’ll be done for in this Legislative session. Environmentalists and firefighters are pretty solidly behind it; industry groups, not so much.

But some observers, including Beyond Chron and the Los Angeles Times, believe the bill actually is doomed because it was introduced by Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who happens to be running to unseat state Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco. The LA Times listed AB 706 among its “must pass” bills… but will old-fashioned electoral politics get in the way?

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.