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Legislative Roundup: Shark Fins, Circumcisions, Concussions...

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This issue is splitting the Asian-American community, where shark fin soup is a tradition.  The bill's author is Asian, but so is one of its leading critics, Democratic Senator Leland Yee:

Lee: "If you happen to be a fisherman, you catch a shark, you can have the fin.  But if you happen to be Chinese-American and you're not the fisherman, well, you can't have the shark fin."

The ban's supporters insist it's not discriminatory and will help sharks avoid extinction.  Besides, says Republican Senator Tony Strickland, shark finning is a "barbaric act."

Strickland: "By cutting these fins, all you're doing is torturing the shark and making the shark drown. And that's a practice that we should not approve here in the state of California."

The shark fin ban passed by a wide margin and now goes straight to the governor.  A companion measure that would exempt fishermen from the ban passed too.  It faces a final vote in the Assembly later this week.


The California Assembly wrapped up work on dozens of bills Tuesday, signing off on Senate amendments and sending them to the governor.

Perhaps the most controversial measure is one that would ban the chemical BPA from being used in baby bottles and sippy cups.  It's a chemical often used to soften plastic products.  Supporters of the ban say there's evidence it disrupts hormones, particularly in children - but Republican Senator Bob Dutton has said the bill is based on "junk science."  Democrats passed the bill over GOP opposition.

Many other measures had unanimous or near-unanimous support.  Among them: a bill that would "cut off" any attempts by local governments to ban male circumcision; a measure requiring high school athletes to be removed from any game or practice where they suffer a concussion; and a bill that would make it easier for non-profits to run state parks set to close due to budget cuts.

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