SACRAMENTO — People who do business at California's Capitol witness a lot of odd events outside the building's main entrances.
Even so, some were jarred to see a handful of stained, lumpy mattresses covering the north steps.
The bedding was a backdrop for a pep rally last week promoting a bill to create a state recycling program for mattresses and box springs. Supporters of SB 254 — including politicians, mattress manufacturers, retailers and environmentalists — said the proposal would combat urban blight.
"The bill will remove mattresses from our streets, help create new green jobs and save money for local governments," said co-author Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley).
The measure would allow retailers to collect a yet-to-be-determined fee to fund recycling, but it still faces a challenge. Although it passed the Senate easily, it needs approval from two-thirds of the Assembly before the Legislature recesses Friday.
"We're close," said co-author Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana).
"Legislation creates strange bedfellows," said Ryan Trainer, president of the International Sleep Products Assn. He was referring to Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, a former antagonist turned ally.
Another mattress recycling booster, Debora Carlton of the California Apartment Assn., wasn't about to be out-punned by Trainer.
"This bill," she said, "puts an ugly problem to bed."
Toxics overhaul stalled
Gov. Jerry Brown's drive to streamline California's Proposition 65 toxics law has stalled.
In May, Brown directed an environmental agency to begin talks with stakeholders aimed at reducing frivolous lawsuits, making ubiquitous warning notices more useful to consumers and fine-tuning safe levels of exposures to chemicals that might cause cancer or birth defects.
"There was a lot of progress made, and we didn't quite get to consensus," said Sam Delson, a spokesman for the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.
The stalled effort doesn't mean that no changes are in store.
A bill by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) would protect restaurants, bars and other small businesses from so-called shakedown lawsuits. It is close to final passage after getting unanimous approval in the Assembly and three Senate committees.
Gatto said the bill, AB 227, "will go a long way toward saving thousands of small businesses around California from unnecessary legal action."
Where's the beef?
The Broiler, a Capitol eatery and politicians' watering hole for more than 60 years, closed unexpectedly over the Labor Day weekend.
No one will miss the funky steakhouse more than the Los Angeles Times' Sacramento columnist, George Skelton, who was officially acknowledged by the restaurant's owners as the Broiler's longest-standing customer.
"I liked the dark wood, the comfortable booths," Skelton mused. "There was no trendy aluminum or glass."
His regular meal: the "light lunch," cottage cheese, fruit and "a huge steak."