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California One Step Closer to Eliminating Vaccine Exemptions

Last week, the California Education Committee voted in favor of SB 277, a bill that would eliminate all personal belief exemptions to vaccination. Under this law, the only way for a child to attend public school without being vaccinated would be through a very difficult to get medical waiver. We and others issued alerts to our California members, but the large number of messages against the bill did not turn the tide in a committee stacked with proponents.

The bill’s next stop is the Senate Judiciary Committee, where most of the members are either co-sponsors of the bill or have already voted for it. If approved in the Judiciary Committee, it would then get a Senate floor vote before moving into a General Assembly Committee, then to the General Assembly floor, and then to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

SB 277 was first heard in the Education Committee on April 15, when over 700 protestors opposing the legislation flooded the state Capitol. During public testimony, about fifty members of the public spoke in favor of the bill for six minutes; news reports said that opponents dressed in matching red shirts testified for nearly two hours, “lining up out of the hearing room and convening in stairwells,” forcing the committee to delay a vote as they tinkered with some of the provisions.

On April 22, SB 277 was on the agenda again, but as a “vote only” item so that the public could not weigh in again. The bill passed by a vote of 7–2, clearing it for the Judiciary Committee on April 28. Two of the representatives who voted in favor, including the bill’s author, Richard Pan, take political money from Big Pharma. Two others in favor take money from health professionals, who often have financial incentives to vaccinate as many of their patients as possible.

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