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Mary Hayashi’s cosmetic-safety bill is vetoed

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today vetoed AB 2106 by Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, a unanimously supported bill which would’ve prohibited making and selling cosmetics containing any of nine harmful chemicals.

In his veto message, the governor wrote:

While the intent of the author is laudable, there is an existing science-based process by
which chemicals are determined to be harmful to the public. I signed legislation in 2005 to require manufacturers that sell any federally regulated cosmetic products to submit a list of their products sold in California along with an identification of any ingredients that cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. This bill circumvents our state’s existing process and lacks enforcement and oversight provisions.

Harmful ingredients should be regulated based upon California’s existing science-based process, rather than through legislation.

According to an analysis of the bill:

The substances listed in the bill at one time were used in cosmetics such as hair dyes. However, most are no longer in commerce or used in cosmetics. For example, the first two used to be prevalent in coal tar hair dyes and if used require a warning level from the federal government that they have been shown to cause cancer in animals. The third also used to be used in hair dyes but was shown to cause cancer in animals in the mid-seventies and phased out. The nine substances have been declared to be “unsafe or use in cosmetics” by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel.
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According to the sponsor, the Personal Care Products Council, this bill is needed because most, but not all, manufacturers have agreed to never use “unsafe” ingredients in cosmetic products. The author’s office states that the bill will level the playing field in California.

The bill had been passed by the Assembly on a 77-0 vote, and by the state Senate on a 35-0 vote.

Hayashi, whom Assembly Speaker Karen Bass last month named to chair the Assembly Business and Professions Committee in the next legislative session, told me a few minutes ago she’s disappointed by the veto.

“I’ve been working really hard with the indusrty to come up with a policy they could support, this has been in the works for quite some time,” she said, adding she disagrees with the governor about the bill’s enforceability. “If he signs the bill, it actually adds the nine chemicals to the Health and Safety Code… so absolutely it’s enforceable, especially civilly.”

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.