Fur Ban a Signature Away From Becoming California Law

California is closer to becoming the first U.S. state to ban sales and the manufacture of fur.

AB44, the bill banning the sale of fur, is headed to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom after the state senate passed the bill 27–8 on Sept. 10. The bill was then approved by the state assembly in a concurrence vote. If Newsom signs the bill, a fur ban will go into effect Jan. 1, 2023. No schedule has been set to send the bill to Newsom’s office, said Blake Dellinger, a spokesman for Assembly member Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), who authored the bill.

While California municipalities such as West Hollywood, Los Angeles, Berkeley and San Francisco have passed their own city bans on the sale of fur, Friedman said that there needed to be a state ban to make a general law for California.

The bill makes it unlawful to sell, display and distribute for monetary and non-monetary consideration a fur product. The bill also would make it unlawful to manufacture a fur product in the state for sale.

The proposed law offers exemptions for the sale of vintage fur as well as fur products used for religious ceremonies. A ban would not regulate skins converted into leather or products such as shearling from domesticated animals. The ban would apply to clothing, handbags, shoes, slippers, hats and keychains that contain fur.

Civil penalties might be pursued against those convicted of selling or manufacturing fur products in California. For the first violation, there may be a fine of $500. A second violation might incur a fine of $750. Lawbreakers might be fined $1,000 for subsequent violations.

Supporters of the bill, including Marc Ching, the founder of Animal Hope in Legislation, said that California has made an important statement. “The legislature has passed a bill that will put an end to the suffering of countless animals due to the senseless cruelty of the fur industry,” Ching said. “We are one step away from being the most compassionate state in America. Fur has no place in our society, and California is leading the movement.”

Keith Kaplan, director of communications and public policy for the Fur Information Council of America, said that his group would explore legal challenges if the law is passed.

“In an era where so many important issues such as homelessness are troubling California, this legislature is paying attention to an issue that will cost taxpayers $25 million in lost revenue and millions of lost dollars in enforcement and litigation,” he said. “All for a ban that does nothing for animal welfare.”

Kaplan said that fur products are already under scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He suggested that the state would be better served by following fur-harvesting and trading guidelines followed by luxury brands such as LVMH and Kering.

Another foe of the ban, Will Coggin, director of research for Washington, D.C.–based The Center for Consumer Freedom, said that the fur ban will set the stage for the erosion of personal liberties.

“California politicians want to police your closet instead of addressing real problems. By kowtowing to animal-liberation extremists, the legislature has set a scary precedent for more invasive laws that take away personal choices to wear leather and wool or to eat meat,” he said.