A sign posted at a Sacramento apartment complex warns of harmful chemicals on the premises, as required by Prop. 65.
The governor has proposed a serious overhaul to the decades-old Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, which requires product manufacturers, retailers and property owners to post signs warning the public if goods or premises contain toxic chemicals.
While most agree that the law has successfully forced businesses to eliminate or reduce toxic chemicals, for years many have complained that the law has been heavily abused by private lawyers. Many claim that Prop 65 has been an easy vehicle for frivolous “shake-down” lawsuits, and Governor Brown has come out in agreement. He wants to ensure, among other things, that attorney’s fees are capped for Prop 65 related cases, and to require stronger demonstration by plaintiffs that they have information to support claims before litigation begins.
Why has this seemingly straightforward law been the cause of so much scrutiny? What measures has Governor Brown proposed to fix it, and will they work? And could these measures go too far and minimize the effectiveness of Prop 65?
David Roe, Former Environmental Defense Fund attorney and one of the principal authors of the Prop 65 initiative.