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Santa Monica Assemblyman’s Digital Autopsy Bill Gets Signed Into Law
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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

August 19, 2016 -- Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on Wednesday a bill introduced by Santa Monica Assemblyman Richard Bloom that allows autopsies to be performed through digital imaging technology in certain cases.

Bloom said in a statement released on Thursday that the law means autopsies can be processed more efficiently and that there is an alternative for families who object to body dissection for religious or cultural reasons.

“By enacting this bill into law we have honored the wish of those who have passed as well as provided the comfort and security for their families and loved ones who now know that their cultural and religious beliefs will be respected,” Bloom said.

He added, “I am grateful for the opportunity to author this change in the law that is so important to many people in my community and across the state.”

The legislation was supported by the California State Coroners’ Association and the Orthodox Jewish organization Agudath Israel of California.

No organized group opposed the bill, and it passed unanimously in both the State Assembly and Senate.

The absence of controversy for this legislation was in contrast to another bill authored by Bloom that seeks to restrict California’s dealings with companies that boycott other nations.

The bill, which was approved by the Assembly in June and could receive a Senate vote as soon as this week, has taken a winding road through the legislative process.

The proposed legislation, once focused on opposing boycotts of Israel specifically, is significantly different in the most recent version.

Assembly Bill 2844 was previously known as the California Combating the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions of Israel Act of 2016, but now has a more generic name and has been stripped of most of the references to Israel.

Earlier versions of the bill said State and local entities could not enter into contracts with companies that boycott Israel. But the updated edition is limited to State contractors, and requires that if a company boycotts any recognized nation that it proves its policy does not violate civil rights laws.

There are only three references to Israel in the most recent version of the bill, while there were more than 40 in earlier editions. Versions of the bill with a stronger tone against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement had difficulty getting through Assembly committees.

A June article in the Jewish Journal quoted Bloom as saying that he hoped the bill would be strengthened again when it went to the Senate.

This has not happened, but in a recent post on Twitter, he objected to calling the updated version “watered-down” and “controversial.”

“Not watered down, just different,” Bloom wrote. “Still a bulwark against BDS. ‘Controversial’ for those who are pro-BDS.”

Despite the changes to the bill, there are still many organizations that oppose it, according to a list on the Assembly’s website that was updated August 12. There are also a significant number of groups in support.

Anti-BDS legislation is not unique to California. Gov. Chris Christie signed a measure into law this week that bans New Jersey from investing in pension and annuity funds that boycott Israel or Israeli businesses.

New Jersey was the 10th state to enact an anti-BDS law. Other states with anti-BDS laws include Florida and Illinois. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York enacted an anti-BDS measure through executive action.

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