LOS ANGELES — A bill that aims to ban the sale and production of fur products statewide passed its first committee hearing Tuesday in what, if signed into law, would make California the first U.S. state to enact such a sweeping measure.
Assembly Bill 44 passed 10 to 4 in the Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife and now moves to the Judiciary Committee for a date to be determined.
The bill’s author, Assembly member Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), said last week at a press conference that “there is no such thing as cruelty-free fur,” also enlisting actress Shannon Elizabeth to join her in support of the bill.
“It is really encouraging to see the support that this bill is getting from the public and my colleagues,” Friedman said Tuesday. “There are so many alternatives to fur, alternatives that have been largely embraced by the industry, yet there are still thousands of animals every year that are viciously maimed and murdered for only their fur. This practice is not only entirely outdated and unnecessary, but it’s completely out of line with our state’s values. I’m so grateful that my colleagues on the committee took such a principled stand for our animals this morning.”
The bill in its current form would eliminate the sale of fur products, such as bags, shoes, hats and jewelry, and also ban their manufacturing in California. Used fur and fur for religious purposes do not fall under the ban. Those selling used products will be required to keep records of each sale or trade.
First-time offenders would be fined $500, with repeat violation fines continuing to increase to as high as $1,000.
AB44 is sponsored by the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation, Animal Hope in Legislation and the Humane Society of the U.S.
The proposed legislation would create a consistent policy statewide, following some cities that have begun passing their own fur bans. The city of Los Angeles was the most recent to do so, with the city council passing a ban on new fur products that is set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2021. Other California cities to ban fur include West Hollywood, San Francisco and Berkeley.
The International Fur Federation expressed disappointment in the bill’s pass through the first committee hearing Tuesday.
“When you have a statewide ban in this market, there are going to be severe impacts on business,” IFF director of the Americas Nancy Daigneault said.
She cited store closures in West Hollywood after that city passed its ban and went on to point out the loss of jobs and properties that remain vacant as a result.
IFF has proposed instead a global certification program called Furmark, which would establish random third-party audits and product tracing.
“We’re going to continue to push that proposal going forward and we’re going to continue to meet with lawmakers and staff,” she said.