"Babies Before Booze," HIV Bills Considered In CA Legislature

Two state lawmakers want to put babies before booze.  Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher and Cristina Garcia have unveiled legislation that would raise the excise tax on distributors of hard alcohol.  The money raised from the liquor tax increase would be used to offset the cost of exempting diapers and feminine hygiene products from sales taxes.

The lawmakers say exempting those products from sales taxes would be a huge help for women and families.  They believe the state should prioritize basic necessities over luxury items when it comes to deciding what should be taxed.

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At the same time, other California lawmakers want to repeal laws passed at the height of the AIDS epidemic that they say unfairly punish HIV-positive people based on outdated science.

Several gay lawmakers are promoting a bill that would make it a misdemeanor instead of a felony to intentionally expose someone to HIV. The change would treat HIV like other communicable diseases under California law.

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Senator Scott Wiener said Wednesday that his bill, SB239, would also repeal laws that increase penalties for prostitution if the sex worker tested positive for AIDS in connection with a previous conviction.

The San Francisco Democrat said modern treatments dramatically reduce the effects of HIV and chances for transmission, but current laws deter people from getting tested and seeking treatment.

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