California Society of Dermatology & Dermatology Surgery
2012 Year End Legislative Report

The 2011-2012 Legislative Session owed much of its character to the State's chronic fiscal crises, which now weighs heavily on even the most minor bits of policymaking. But the session had a quirkiness too that derived in large part from the idiosyncrasies of the Governor, whose signature and veto messages could be playful, funny or dismissive, and were often unpredictable.

In 2011, CalDerm and the AIM at Melanoma Foundation sponsored first-in-the-nation legislation, SB 746 (Lieu), to prohibit minors from using commercial tanning beds. We and our allies successfully moved the bill, committee by committee, house to house, and to Governor Brown's office, where in September it sat awaiting his action. In our meetings with his staff, they were listening but non-committal.

Our apprehension was piqued when, prior to acting on SB 746, the Governor vetoed a bill to prohibit minors from snowboarding without helmets. "Not every human problem deserves a law," he wrote, bemoaning the "continuing and seemingly inexorable transfer of authority from parents to the state." In short, the helmet bill had crossed a line, a line that CalDerm's tanning bed bill seemed likely to test.

In our case, we responded with information: statements from CalDerms physicians and patients, studies linking UV exposure among the young to melanoma, misleading marketing materials from tanning salons, and testimonials about the impacts of local bans elsewhere. All were compiled in a three-inch binder for the Governor, with his known penchant for reading and for details.

His signature on SB 746 created the first statewide ban in the nation and marked a huge success for CalDerm and our allies. Most importantly, the new law fundamentally protects health and life; public policy has no better justification — and CalDerm has no better validation in the eyes of patients and state policymakers.

In 2012, CalDerm was pleased to join with our colleagues at ASDSA in co-sponsoring AB 1548 (Carter), a bill to stiffen penalties (and therefore strengthen incentives) for prosecution of medi-spas operating illegally and unsafely. A similar bill was vetoed by the previous Governor despite wide support by legislators. This time around, the bill was signed by the Governor. CalDerm was pleased, once again, with the Legislature's and Governor's concern with protecting patient safety.

Otherwise, CalDerm engaged on a number of 2011-2012 policy fronts, many of which are likely to resurface in the session ahead. Included in these are:

  • Cosmetic Procedure Tax: Legislators continue to probe for new revenues to help close the persistent Budget gap. This year, two proposals surfaced to tax services (akin to the sales tax on goods), included one proposal specifically aimed at taxing cosmetic procedures. CalDerm joined other organizations in fending off those proposals. However, they will likely surface again next year — and almost certainly will if the Governor's tax measure, Proposition 30, fails at the polls.
  • Malpractice Liability: This past year brought two proposals — SB 1528 (Steinberg) and AB 1062 (Dickenson) — that would potential undermine the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) protections. Both bills stalled on the last of day of session under intense opposition from a coalition of provider organizations including CalDerm and the CMA. Threats are sure to appear again in various shapes and guises.
  • Hydroquinone: The California Attorney General's Office has been considering whether to pursue some level of restriction of the dispensing of hydroquinone creams. CalDerm has met with AG Harris and several legislators to provide information on the appropriate use of the skin-bleaching products. It remains unclear will evolve into a legislative or regulatory issue going forward.