Assembly OKs beach fire ring, prison condom and gambling measures

SACRAMENTO — The state Assembly on Monday overwhelmingly passed a measure intended to preserve beach fire rings and, more narrowly, approved a proposal to make condoms available in California's prisons.

Beach fire rings have been at the center of a protracted battle in Southern California's beach towns, particularly Newport Beach, where local air-quality authorities have stepped up their regulation of the fires because of concerns over their effect on the environment and residents' health.


Opponents of the regulations say they threaten to end a beloved beachfront tradition and jeopardize tourism revenue.

The bill by Assembly members Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) and Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) would put off a new rule that would effectively remove rings in Newport Beach. The delay would give the city time to form a plan to move the rings, addressing authorities' concerns.

It is "intended to protect not only historical California tradition but millions in revenue for cities, counties and the state," Allen said on the Assembly floor.

The bill, AB 1102, passed 64 to 0.

Another measure, by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), would require the state's corrections department to craft a five-year plan to make condoms available in prisons.

"This is simple and sound preventative public health policy that is data-driven and informed by a highly successful pilot project," Bonta said. "It will save lives."

The Legislature passed a similar Bonta measure last year, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it, noting that family visitors are already allowed to bring condoms for overnight visits.

This year's bill, AB 966, passed with a 45-26 vote.

Both measures now move to the Senate.

Also Monday, the Senate moved to require a review of the growing gambling industry in California. State officials would examine existing regulations and the possibility of imposing new taxes on gambling under SB 601, by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco). Senators approved the bill 32 to 0 Monday and sent it to the Assembly.

Times staff writer Patrick McGreevy contributed to this report.