Calif. Lawmakers Revive, Propose Changes to Vaccine Legislation
On Tuesday, state Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) announced that he has proposed amendments to a bill (SB 277) to strengthen the state's childhood vaccination requirements in an effort to revive the legislation after it stalled in the Senate Education Committee last week, the Los Angeles Times' "PolitiCal" reports.
The committee now is scheduled to vote on the bill on Wednesday (McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 4/21).
Background on Bill
SB 277 -- by Pan and state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Redondo Beach) -- would end all personal belief exemptions to childhood vaccination requirements.
In addition, the bill 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; and
- Require schools to inform parents of immunization rates.
- The bill would allow exemptions for medical reasons.
Last week, a state Senate Education Committee vote on the bill was delayed after opponents raised concerns about children missing out on an education if their parents refused to vaccinate them.
Committee Chair Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) said, "The penalty for not immunizing their kids is you either have to home-school or take your kids out of public schools, and I don't think that's a solution to the problem."
After the hearing, Pan said he would consider amending the bill (California Healthline, 4/16).
Details of Amendments
On Tuesday, Pan and Allen released proposed amendments to broaden the bill's exemption for home-schooled children ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 4/21).
Specifically, 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 (White, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 4/21).
According to Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News," state Senate rules require two days' notice on all committee amendments, and therefore the changes would not be added to the bill until after the Senate Education Committee vote.
If the panel approves the measure, the amendments would be added to the bill when it appears in the state Senate Judiciary Committee (Adler, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 4/21).
At a press conference Tuesday, Pan said, "We want to ensure that every child has access to an education and that's what we're doing with these amendments."
Likelihood of Passage
According to the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert," it is unclear whether the state Senate Education Committee will approve SB 277, as committee members are still waiting to review the proposed amendments ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 4/21).
A spokesperson for Liu said that the state senator "supports vaccination, but she wants to hear what other members think of the proposed amendments" ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 4/21).
According to "KXJZ News," one critic of the bill said the amendments would not help low-income and single-parent families who cannot afford to home-school their children ("KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 4/21).
Meanwhile, state Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) said he is "leaning towards supporting" the measure but wants a chance to see how the bill's authors respond to questions.
Pan said that the changes likely would "satisfy many of the concerns of my colleagues, and I'm optimistic we're going to get the bill out" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 4/21).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.