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Backers of condoms-in-porn measure say it will qualify for 2016 ballot

A proposed statewide ballot measure that would require adult film actors to wear condoms when performing sex scenes has garnered enough signatures to go before voters, proponents said Friday.

The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation said the measure's advocates had collected more than 371,000 signatures, enough to place the item on the November 2016 ballot.

Advocates needed to collect at least 365,880 signatures of registered voters to get on the ballot, according to the California secretary of state's office. The signatures still have to be validated by state officials.

The proposal — initiated by AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein — follows the defeat last year of state legislation that would have required condom use on porn sets statewide. The proposed ballot initiative is modeled after Measure B, a 2012 voter-approved Los Angeles County condoms-in-porn law that was backed by Weinstein's foundation.

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Initial polling on the initiative and the passage of Measure B showed that "unlike most politicians, voters were not squeamish about this issue, seeing it as a means to protect the health and safety of performers working in the industry," Weinstein said in a statement. "It's only fair that these performers be afforded the same safeguards as other Californians in their workplaces."

The proposal asserts that condom use should be required on set to limit the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among performers and that the industry "places profits above worker safety."

It would require film companies to report to the state, under penalty of perjury, that actors used condoms. Violators would face fines of up to $70,000.

The measure also would require adult film sets to post signs in a "typeface not smaller than 48-point font" that says state law "requires the use of condoms for all acts of vaginal or anal intercourse during the production of adult films to protect performers from sexually transmitted infections and diseases."

The adult film industry has vigorously opposed condom mandates, saying existing actor testing for HIV is effective and that the laws will drive the industry out of state or underground.

According to the Legislative Analyst's Office, the state legislature's nonpartisan fiscal and policy advisor, the measure could reduce state and local tax revenue by tens of millions of dollars per year, and it would likely cost the state millions of dollars annually to enforce.

The Free Speech Coalition, a Canoga Park-based trade association for the adult film industry, called Weinstein an "anti-sex crusader" who is harassing porn performers.

"Money that should have gone to prevention campaigns in high-risk communities has instead been spent attacking a highly regulated industry that hasn't seen an on-set HIV transmission in over 10 years," Diane Duke, the group's executive director, said in a statement.

Adult film productions have fled L.A. County since the passage of Measure B. The number of permits issued for adult films has fallen more than 90% since 2012, according to FilmL.A. Inc., the nonprofit that oversees film permits throughout the county. An industry that typically got 500 permits annually has only gotten seven permits in the first half of 2015, FilmL.A. said.

Advocates of the proposed initiative said they will continue collecting signatures until the Sept. 14 filing deadline, with a goal of collecting more than 500,000.

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