Governor Jerry Brown has donned his white knight armor and ridden into another reform battle over lawsuit abuse on Proposition 65. The ballot measure passed by voters in 1986 requires businesses to post signs warning the public if goods or anything on the business’s premises contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer or birth defects. The requirement has led to many lawsuits against businesses from lawyers abusing the intent of the law.

Brown, in his statement announcing his efforts to reform Prop 65, flatly stated: “Proposition 65 is a good law that’s helped many people, but it’s being abused by unscrupulous lawyers.” The administration proposes fixes that include:

As frequent Fox and Hounds contributor, Tom Scott, head of California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, told the Sacramento Bee, the governor’s involvement in this debate could be a “game-changer.” Scott said the governor’s participation confirms for the public that Prop 65 is subject to legal abuse and that reform is needed.

The reform effort is necessary to help improve the business climate in this state and the governor should be praised for his move.

The question is, how much will the legislature go along when confronted with pressure from two involved interest groups – environmentalists and trial lawyers.

Governor Brown has taken up the battle for reform before that would improve the state’s business climate. His support of CEQA reform has yet to move significant legislation forward. He had more success in supporting reforms to the workers compensation system.

The governor’s attention to business concerns is an important step in trying to remake the state’s poor business reputation.