California is a state that never ceases to amaze. Just when you think you've heard all that could possibly be heard, they step up and raise the bar – always insuring the rest of the country has plenty to talk about.

This week an HIV outbreak in the porn industry, which has resisted efforts to require condoms on its performers, has virtually shut down production, which is mostly centered in the Los Angeles area. Additionally, the Senate, in a state so bankrupt it makes Illinois look solvent, just passed a bill mandating the distribution of free condoms to state prisoners.

So let us review. There have been efforts over the years to protect porn workers from bio hazards that are a routine risk of their jobs. I've written about this previously. Safety proponents argued that porn workers should be required to wear appropriate protective gear (aka condoms). Opponents cited existing California safety laws and routine testing, indicating that they were adequate for protecting this specialized work force. They also indicated that no one would buy their product if their performers had to “perform” in Class A Hazmat suits.

This week news that no less than 4 adult film performers have tested positive for HIV have likely proven those protections ineffective. It has virtually brought the porn industry in California to a standstill, which is not a position it normally finds productive or even interesting. There are estimates that 10,000 workers have been left without work, including eight little people, three donkeys and twenty eight chickens. The economic repercussions will reverberate well beyond those directly impacted by this moratorium on “directly impacting”; most notably leather producers and makers of sex toys will no doubt feel the pinch.

While the infections have not been definitively linked to on set activities, it does seem likely. I cannot imagine these workers successfully fitting the IRS definition of an independent contractor, so someone somewhere may carry workers' comp insurance on these people. Right now it appears the industry's mod rate will be the only thing that's rising.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, the State just passed AB999, which will require state correctional facilities to freely distribute condoms to inmates; this despite the fact that performing sexual acts in prison is illegal. The state is citing the need to prevent the spread of HIV among inmates who ultimately must be treated by the state.

So to summarize, porn workers who, by definition of their jobs, must engage in intimate sexual contact with others, do not have to wear protection in California, but prisoners, whose intimate contact is prohibited by law, must.

Actually, that last statement is inaccurate. Prisoners are not required to wear the condoms, as requiring inmates to do anything is likely a violation of their civil rights and an affront to their human dignity.

What else would we expect from a state whose prison system I previously speculated refers to inmates as “guests”?

To be completely fair to California's political elite, the State Senate did do something right this week. They passed AB 1309, limiting workers' compensation for professional athletes who were never employed by a California team. California has been rocked the last couple years by a flood of injured out of state NFL players targeting their state for its more generous benefit structures. AB 1309 will require that any player receiving benefits in the state “to have played for a California-based team for at least two years and to have spent no more than seven seasons with an out-of-state team”.  The bill now goes back to the Assembly for a final vote.

And finally, sensing that California was becoming too friendly for employers, a bill was sent to Governor Brown this week that greatly expands protections for employees by improving paid leave time for them. SB 770 expands California's current 6 week paid leave requirements to require compensation while caring for additional family members, including in-laws. While this program, known as PFL, is funded solely by “employee contributions” (what you and I would call a tax), it has to be an enormous pain for employers. It can be “taken intermittently on an hourly, daily or weekly basis as needed.” No payroll headaches there.

Seems everyone in California is getting special protections – except porn workers and employers. Those are the folks who are really taking it in the shorts.

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