MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 899 and SB 1146 — May 27, 2016

At the conclusion of Monday’s Floor Session, a special Floor Session was called for Thursday. It ran from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. One of the first bills discussed, SB 899, had a rough start as its author had some difficulties presenting it (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Other’s Senate Bills – 1286, 443, and 899 — April 18, 2016 april 18, 2016 john moorlach). But, the debate went in earnest when it was opened to the Floor.

It confounds me how the State Legislature can find ever more ways to regulate our businesses. Now the retailers are in its scope as a target. I know that there are certain gender pricing abuses, but I believe the market place can rectify them; and stated as much (see The topic is covered in the LA Times in the first piece below and The Sacramento Bee in the second piece.

The third piece below, in The Sacramento Bee, deals with a very serious topic that I believe will have national reverberations. Christian universities can obtain Title IX exemptions from the Federal government, making them exempt from discrimination lawsuits.

SB 1146 targets these universities, which hold a tenet of sexual purity, to abide by secular standards, including potential litigation if it discriminates. This is not an easy topic to debate. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his final sermon, emphasized love, moral excellence, and generosity. Pursuing sexual purity prior to marriage and marital fidelity while married is not an easy standard by which to conduct oneself by, especially in an age where we are constantly being bombarded with images that tempt us, as marketing professionals know that sex sells.

Those that uphold this tenet can be perceived as being intolerant. And one segment of our society has made significant strides in recent years, and is now frustrated with campuses that uphold moral excellence. So, I made an observation on tolerance. There is a lesson that should not be lost, which will require an emphasis on love and generosity.

Pink razors and blue razors should cost the same under gender-pricing measure the California Senate just approved

By Patrick McGreevy

The state Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would prohibit businesses in California from charging customers different prices for similar goods on the basis of gender.

State Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), the author of the bill, cited the example of two substantially similar disposable razors sold by the same company. A package of 12 blue razors marketed for men cost $7.99. A package of 12 pink razors for women sold in the same store for $12.99.

“We understand that women already earn less income. Why are we charging them more for essential products that they need in their everyday lives?” Hueso said during the floor debate. “This bill would prohibit the sale of goods on the basis of discrimination to women or men.”

He also cited a 2015 study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs that looked at a wide variety of products, including toys and clothing, which found that women’s products cost more 42% of the time while men’s products cost more 18% percent of the time.

California has, for two decades, protected consumers against gender price discrimination in the service industry.

Hueso’s bill would allow consumers to challenge different prices by the same brand for similar or identical products .

But it allows price differences based specifically on the labor, materials, taxes or other gender-neutral reasons.

Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) joined most Republicans in opposing the bill, predicting it would lead to a flood of frivolous lawsuits that could drive small retailers out of business. He said consumers and the marketplace will weed out unfair pricing.

“I don’t think we need to have a pricing police going into retail shops,” Moorlach said. “I see it as a nightmare for retailers.”

State Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) brought up an example in which one company sells a red boy’s scooter for $29.99 and a pink girl’s scooter for $49.99.

Other lawmakers joked about consumers saving money by using a product marketed to the opposite sex.

“Members, sex discrimination isn’t a joke,” responded state Sen. Loni Hancock(D-Berkeley). “It’s a reality that women have been living with for centuries.”

The bill goes to the Assembly for consideration.

Bill banning ‘gender tax’ clears California Senate

SB 899 prohibits retailers from charging men and women separate prices for similar products

Supporters say women face ‘gender tax’ on consumer goods

Passes 22-12 over opposition from business groups

By Alexei Koseff

Pink scooters that cost double their red counterparts. “Boyfriend”-style clothing far more expensive than the men’s fashion it mimics.

These are the scenarios that California legislators aim to outlaw with Senate Bill 899, a prohibition on “gender price discrimination” that often sees women charged more for similar goods. The equal-price-for-equal-products measure by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, passed the state Senate on Thursday by a vote of 22-12.

“I don’t know any women who do not want to pay their fair share,” Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, said. “But we do not want to pay our share and someone else’s share.”

Opposed by retailers and the California Chamber of Commerce, SB 899 struggled for enough support on the Senate floor. Four Democrats – Steve Glazer of Orinda, Cathleen Galgiani of Manteca, Ben Allen of Santa Monica and Bob Wieckowski of Fremont – voted no or abstained. Republicans were uniformly against the proposal.

Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said he spoke with his wife and she confirmed that there are issues, but he felt the market could correct itself.

“I don’t think we need to have a pricing police going into retail shops,” he said. “If there’s a retailer that is really abusing this pricing, this gender pricing, the gals can just get on Facebook and just knock the retailer right off the shelf.”

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

Senate bill says religion no excuse for LGBT discrimination

SB 1146 would tighten requirements for university exemptions from anti-discrimination laws

Sen. Ricardo Lara says schools use exemptions to discriminate

Republican senators say bill infringes on First Amendment rights

By Rachel Cohrs

The state Senate passed a bill Thursday that would make it more difficult for universities to get religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT individuals.

The bill would affect more than 30 higher education institutions in California that currently have religious exemptions to federal or state anti-discrimination laws.

It also requires universities receiving religious exemptions to disclose them. Currently, state exemptions are only available through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The author of the bill, Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, said LGBT students and staff have been expelled from school or fired from their jobs based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, only to learn that their universities had religious exemptions to discrimination protections after the fact.

He also cited examples of transgender students who couldn’t get access to housing consistent with their gender identity.

“These universities have a license to discriminate, and students have absolutely no recourse,” Lara said on the Senate floor.

Republican officials voiced their concerns that the bill, which would limit religious exemptions only to seminaries or religious vocational training schools, infringes upon religious liberty.

“Sometimes you can become what you hate,” said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said. “You can become intolerant if you have been the victim of intolerance. I want to be very careful where we are going.”

On a federal level, Title IX currently prohibits sex-based discrimination in educational programs or athletics. Universities can obtain a religious exemption for institutions controlled by religious organizations. At least six universities in California have applied for or received religious Title IX exemptions, including Biola University, Fresno Pacific University, Simpson University, William Jessup University, John Paul the Great Catholic University and LABI College.

The key state-level discrimination law, the Equity in Higher Education Act, has more stringent regulations that prevent schools from discriminating on the basis of disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

The Senate bill would allow schools to keep religious curriculum and chapel requirements for students. Failure to comply with the bill’s requirements wouldn’t affect Cal Grant money, but would open up an avenue for students and staff to take legal action.

A similar bill in committee in the Assembly would require schools to adhere to the state’s nondiscrimination requirements in order for students to receive Cal Grant financial aid.

Rachel Cohrs: 916-321-1046, @rachelcohrs


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