Amended Vaccine Bill Bypasses Appropriations Committee Vote
The authors of a California bill (SB 277) that would end personal belief exemptions to childhood vaccination requirements have amended the legislation to remove a reporting requirement, allowing the measure to bypass the state Senate Appropriations Committee, the AP/Washington Times reports (Lin, AP/Washington Times, 5/11).
SB 277, by state Sens. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Ben Allen (D-Redondo Beach), would only allow children who have received vaccinations for certain diseases, such as measles and whooping cough, to be admitted to schools in the state.
The bill would allow exemptions for medical reasons.
Pan and Allen also proposed amendments to broaden the bill's exemption for home-schooled children after a state Senate Education Committee vote on the bill was delayed when opponents raised concerns about children missing out on an education if their parents refused to vaccinate them.
The amendments would allow unvaccinated children to:
- Enroll in private home-schooling programs that serve multiple families, rather than programs that serve just one family; and
- Participate in independent study projects that are overseen by school districts but do not include classroom time (California Healthline, 4/29).
In addition, Pan and Allen have said they plan to amend the bill again to "grandfather" many students whose parents already have claimed personal belief exemptions to vaccination requirements, allowing tens of thousands of children to delay or avoid the vaccinations (California Healthline, 5/11).
Details of Amendment to Reporting Requirement
This week, Pan and Allen removed from the bill a provision that would have required schools to inform parents of immunizations rates.
According to the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert," the amendment eliminates the costs associated with the bill, thus allowing it to advance without going through the appropriations committee. The bill now could see a full state Senate vote as early as Thursday.
Pan said he amended the bill so that its core objective of boosting vaccination rates "wouldn't get entangled in other issues," adding, "This bill now is really about abolishing" personal belief exemptions.
Allen noted that the amendment would make passing the bill "a little bit easier." He said, "Our goal is to get this bill passed with its core intact."
According to "Capitol Alert," opponents criticized Pan and Allen for the amendment, labeling it as a "dishonest" attempt at securing its passage.
California Coalition for Health Choice spokesperson Sylvia Pimentel said, "These senators have promised amendments in every committee to give their colleagues any flimsy excuse possible to support the bill" (Koseff, "Capitol Alert" Sacramento Bee, 5/11).
Meanwhile, California Chiropractic Association President Brian Stenzler said, "They're pulling out all the tricks ... They're not stopping anywhere until [the bill] gets out of the [state] Senate" (AP/Washington Times, 5/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.