Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Brown signs birth certificate, syringe bills into law

Governor Jerry Brown (Photo: Lydia Gonzales)

Governor Jerry Brown (Photo: Lydia Gonzales)

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill that allows same-sex parents more options to identify their relationships to their children, as well as legislation that will make it easier for intravenous drug users to have access to clean needles through 2020. Brown signed the bills Monday, September 15.

Assembly Bill 1951, authored by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) modernizes California birth certificates by allowing each parent to identify as mother, father or parent.

“I authored this bill to say that it’s okay to have two mothers or fathers,” Gomez said in a news release Tuesday, September 16. “I believe that parents do see themselves as a mother or a father and that they want to express that on their child’s birth certificate. We should give people the flexibility to accurately reflect their relationship with their child.”

Gomez added, “In the long term, this will change the way people view the family structure and view each other. In the future, it won’t be a debate; it will be something that is commonly accepted.”

Currently, parents are required to select “Mother/Parent” and “Father/Parent.” AB 1951 requires the Department of Public Health to change birth certificates so that they include a line for each parent’s name with boxes to choose “Mother,” “Father,” or “Parent.”

The new law goes into effect in January 2016. Same-sex couples who currently have children will be able to update their child’s birth certificate to the new format starting in 2016.


Also Monday, Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1743, the Safe Syringe Access Act.

Initially, Assemblyman Phil Ting’s legislation would have ended the need for lawmakers to re-address the issue. But the Democrat from San Francisco added a five-year sunset to his bill to address objections raised by public safety groups.

Under state law, pharmacists have been allowed to sell up to 30 syringes without a prescription. But the legislation had been set to sunset on January 1, and without lawmakers extending the law, syringe sales would have remained legal in just 15 counties and four cities, including San Francisco.

The new law removes the cap placed on the number of syringes a person could buy at one time.

“It has taken many years to win this fight but California will finally start treating syringe access as a public health issue,” Ting said in a news release Tuesday. “We dithered while the rest of the nation aggressively expanded access to save lives and tax dollars. That makes this victory both exciting and overdue. This is a landmark reform for California.”

In a statement issued after the Legislature passed his bill in August, he said, “Syringes can be bought over the counter in nearly every state because the policy saves lives without taxpayer expense. Mountains of research and the medical community stand squarely behind this bill.”

With access to clean syringes an effective tool in preventing the transmission of HIV and hepatitis, AIDS advocates pushed for passage of Ting’s bill. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Drug Policy Alliance are its lead sponsors.

Neil Giuliano, the AIDS foundation’s CEO, has applauded Ting’s work.

“We salute Assemblyman Ting for his leadership on this issue, which will help thousands of people throughout the state and reduce the burden of HIV and [the hepatitis C virus] on our public health system,” Giuliano stated in February. “As operator of one of the oldest and largest syringe access programs in the country, we know the significant impact that access to sterile syringes can have in preventing blood-borne illnesses like HIV and HCV among people in our community at high risk for infection.”

In August, Laura Thomas, deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, stated Ting’s bill is “an exciting breakthrough.”

“Pharmacy syringe access is a proven and cost-effective way to save lives by reducing the spread of HIV and hepatitis,” Thomas said. “It has taken years of advocacy to receive such strong support for sterile syringe access inside the state Capitol.”

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 16, 2014 @ 11:03 am PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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