California Legislator Files Superbug Tracking Bill

State Sen. Jerry Hill says his bill would set up the first system in the nation to track antibiotic-resistant infections and deaths.

A California state senator, Sen. Jerry Hill, has introduced a bill this week that would require the creation of a system to track antibiotic-resistant infections and deaths related to infections caused by "superbugs." He filed another bill that aims to require passengers who ride in buses equipped with seat belts to wear them and a third bill to require each law enforcement agency in California to have a written procedure in place to account for all of its guns.

"These bills are aimed at improving public health and safety and the accountability of agencies and systems that are intended to protect Californians," said Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. He introduced the bills on the first day of the new legislative session after taking the oath of office for his second four-year Senate term.

His Senate Bill 43—Superbug Tracking is legislation to set up a first-in-the-nation system to monitor and track antibiotic-resistant infections and deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate antibiotic resistance kills 23,000 Americans each year and sickens some 2 million people, and in California, health authorities estimate superbugs are to blame for 3,000 deaths and 260,000 illnesses annually, Hill reported, yet California and the federal government don't track antibiotic-resistant infections or deaths associated with the infections.

"We cannot hope to effectively combat superbug infections without such critical information. What we don't know can kill us," Hill said.

Hill's SB 22—Law Enforcement Firearms Accountability Bill is an attempt to improve law enforcement agencies' oversight of their firearms, Hill said. The bill requires each law enforcement agency in the state to have the written procedure and a process for annual inventories, reconciliation of guns on hand with guns listed in inventory, a process for reporting lost or stolen guns, and a disciplinary procedure for officers who fail to report a lost or stolen firearm.

"Law enforcement agencies and their officers must maintain and secure their guns in a manner that reflects their public safety mission," Hill said. "Unfortunately, nothing in current law sufficiently requires law enforcement agencies to account for, keep track of, or in any other way monitor their guns."

The bus seat belt bill is SB 20. It would require passengers riding in buses equipped with seat belts to wear them and follows a NHTSA rule that took effect last month requiring new buses of a certain type to have seat belts for passengers. Hill's bill would make failure to buckle up in a bus equipped with safety belts a violation that carries a $20 fine to the passenger for the first offense and a $50 fine for all subsequent offenses, which is consistent with the law for seat belts in cars. Before a trip begins, bus operators would be responsible for informing passengers about the new requirement to wear their seat belts.

The text of the superbug bill is available here.

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