California’s Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (a referendum) from 1986, that requires labeling and public notice of exposures to chemicals "known to the state of California to cause ..." certain toxic effects (approaching 800 chemicals, in a ever growing list) has finally hit enough small businesses with "shake down" lawsuits that even Governor Brown is willing to try to help.  This "right to know" law has resulted in blacklisting and substitution of arguably toxic chemicals used in unnecessary ways as companies prefer not to label their products with the nasty statement.  On the other hand, the statement appears everywhere - every gas station and restaurant serving liquor - to the point where consumers don't even see them anymore.

Prop 65 warning

But there are law firms specialize in trolling for easy settlement bucks pay a lot of attention thanks to the ability for anyone to sue for enforcement. In 2011, California's Office of the Attorney General said there were 338 Prop. 65 settlements in with business owners forking over $16.29 million to settle, nearly $11.94 million of which went to plaintiff fees and costs.

Brown and state legislators are trying to cut down on abusive private law suits and accompanying fees and make it a little less gotcha on when labeling and posting is necessary (prime examples: suits against banks for not labeling near ATMs where smokers congregate and the 1,000-fold trigger below the NO Observable Effect Level for reproductive toxins).  Of course the NGOs who drove Prop 65 are nervous about such "fixes."  These are "toxics," after all.  But they can't be against mom and pop businesses, so maybe some compromise will occur.

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