California Bill Would Require Occupational Licenses for Porn Actors, Strippers, Cam Girls

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In a very California story, inter-union drama appears to be marring the introduction of a bill that would require porn stars to get business licenses.

On Tuesday, Assemblymembers Lorena Gonzalez (D–San Diego) and Christina Garcia (D–Bell Gardens) introduced Assembly Bill (A.B.) 2389. The bill would require adult entertainers and video performers, including webcam performers, to obtain a business license and complete a state-mandated training course before being allowed to ply their trade.

Requirements for that training would be developed by the state’s Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), which would, in turn, be advised by a new 10-member, governor-appointed board composed of two adult film actors, three dancers, two medical doctors, a therapist, and a money manager.

This training will be a minimum of two hours and will provide information on reporting workplace injuries, sexual harassment, and sex trafficking. Adult performers would be required to cover the cost of this training. The bill would also require that they be finger-printed.

The bill was, according to a staff member for Garcia’s office, first proposed by the International Entertainment Adult Union (IEAU)—a union representing strippers, adult actors, and adult film crews—much to the chagrin of some its chapters.

That includes the Adult Performers Actors Guild (APAG), which has come out against the legislation put forward by their parent union.

“We are shocked, disgusted and angry that our parent union did this without discussing it with APAG, without discussing it with the industry and without discussing it with stakeholders,” said APAG President Alana Evans to XBiz, an adult entertainment industry publication. “Nobody contacted us about this. Not the IEAU, not Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who I met Thursday to discuss A.B. 5.”

(Gonzalez is also the author of the controversial A.B. 5 legislation that requires many gig economy workers to be classified as employees and not independent contractors.)

Evans has called for the board of the IEAU to resign. She says APAG will be filing a lawsuit as well.

APAG raised a number of specific concerns about A.B. 2389 on Twitter, including that it would, by only making licensing provisions for those 21 and older, bar sex workers under 21 from the industry. They also expressed concern that the bill could force some performers to submit to licensing inspections at their homes if that’s also their primary place of business.

Gonzalez said on Twitter that she had introduced the bill at the behest of the IEAU, and she would not vote for it as written.

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A staffer for Garcia’s office told Reason that the bill is in its early stages, and contained several drafting errors that would need to be amended. That includes the issue of whether the bill would ban 18-,19-, and 20-year-olds from the industry.

Currently the bill reads: “The initial training shall be a minimum of two hours and shall be required for all adult performers 21 years of age and older. Initial training for adult entertainers and performers shall be a minimum of two hours and 45 minutes.”

The two hours and 45 minutes training requirement was supposed to be for 18- to 20-year-olds, but that provision was apparently lost in the drafting of the bill.

The other drafting error is that the bill calls for the creation of a 10-member advisory board, but only lays out composition requirements for nine positions. The bill will be amended to make the advisory board a nine-member body.

Whether ironing out those kinks will be enough to satisfy the APAG remains to be seen. The group did not respond to request for comment.

The creation of licensure requirements gives state regulators the authority to police the behavior of participants in what is often a pretty informal industry. Reason recently covered how police in Florida have conducted sting operations on handymen as part of their enforcement of that state’s contractor licensing laws.

As Reason‘s Elizabeth Nolan Brown has covered extensively, sex workers have plenty of reasons to be apprehensive about the expansion of the regulatory state.

It’s true also that regulatory seeds, once planted, tend to grow. It’s conceivable that the bill’s current two-hour training requirement could be expanded to become more onerous over time.

So far, unlicensed performers have done a pretty good job of staffing up the adult entertainment industry. Given the risks that come with licensure, it would probably be best to let the free market continue to do its work here.


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