State of Play: California’s Dangerous “Lab Gag” Bill

We’re loving the bill sponsor’s latest assurance.

NEAVS supporters on the ground fighting AB700 in Glendale, California

NEAVS supporters on the ground fighting AB700 in Glendale, California

Quick update on the bill we’re fighting in California (AB700) that we told you about earlier this week.

To recap:
Under current law, the public can request records about animal experiments in publicly-funded universities in California, where 34,000 animals are suffering in laboratories. If the current version of the bill were to pass, the public’s right to request these records would be lost.

Here’s what’s exciting to us:
First, late last night the bill’s sponsor (Assemblymember Laura Friedman, who represents part of Los Angeles county) stated publicly for the first time that she won’t attempt to advance her bill unless the animal protection groups that spoke out are satisfied with the bill. Specifically, Friedman said yesterday:

“If we can’t get the bill where it needs to go we won’t proceed with it this year. We agree with the concerns [raised by animal protection groups] as the bill is currently written.”

This is a big evolution from her April 2nd statement, when she simply implied she’d withdraw the bill if enough of her colleagues didn’t support it:

“If I end up with a bill that can’t be supported by many of my colleagues, then I know it’s a bill that I don’t want to do...”

Second, earlier this week the Assembly Committee that was scheduled to consider and pass the bill decided to postpone any consideration of the bill. We’re exceedingly grateful to Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez for deciding to put a hold on this bill. As of this writing it’s unclear when or if this bill will get consideration in that committee.

Our Bottom Line:
Until we see a revised version of this bill that contains a protection for the public to always get information about animal experiments, without any exception or diminishment of the public’s rights under current law, we’re going to continue to encourage our supporters to speak out against the bill. But last night’s statement from Friedman is a great sign that the nightmare this bill would create for animals suffering in experiments may not come to fruition.

It’s not too late to get involved. If you’re a California resident, please call Assemblymember Friedman at (818) 558-3043 and respectfully request she either withdraw AB700 or fix it so that the public’s right to get information about animal experiments remains intact.