Assembly Appropriations advances tackle ban study bill

SACRAMENTO — A bill proposing to study the effects of lead fishing tackle on wildlife, waterways and drinking water advanced out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 25. Assembly Bill 2787 (AB 2787) moved forward thanks to a 12-4 vote (with one no-vote-recorded).

AB 2787 originally proposed an outright ban on lead fishing tackle. Assembly Member Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, updated his bill, however, to instead study the effects of lead fishing tackle on local waterways and wildlife. Critics of the original AB 2787 challenged Quirk’s proposal as failing to connect the use of lead fishing weights to actual environmental harm.

Quirk’s update of AB 2787 – replacing his proposal to ban with a study – was viewed as a victory in some corners. Others, however, cynically argued the amended bill merely postponed the inevitable: legislators would eventually find a study to justify a ban on lead fishing weights.

“This bill requires DFW [the Department of Fish and Wildlife] to conduct a study in consultation with DTSC [Department of Toxic and Substance Control] and the State Water Board on the use of lead fishing tackle including impacts on natural waters and drinking water sources,” a May 14 legislative analysis out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee stated. “Lead has been listed under California’s Proposition 65 since 1987 as a substance that can cause reproductive damage and birth defects and has been listed as a chemical known to cause cancer since 1992. There is no level of lead that has been proven safe, either for children or for adults.”

Quirk’s proposal would require the Department of Fish and Wildlife to enter into contracts to conduct the study and submit findings to the legislature and governor by March 1, 2020.

The reports submitted to the governor and state legislators must include recommendations for safe use of lead fishing tackle, according to the most recent legislative analysis of AB 2787.

“According to DFW, the study will take a minimum of four years to complete. The department will incur one-time costs for equipment, sampling efforts will likely occur over a two-year period, and vendor contracts will also be necessary. The final year will involve analysis and reporting,” the Appropriations Committee’s analysis of AB 2787 stated.

Conducting a study in lead fishing weights is expected to cost DFW about $1.3 million in the first year, then $1.8 million for years two and three. The cost associated with the study’s final year is slated to be $550,000.

Republicans Frank Gallagher (Placerville), Vince Fong (Bakersfield), James Gallagher (Yuba City) and Jay Obernolte (Barstow) were the four votes against AB 2787 in Appropriations Committee.

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