The state Senate gave final legislative approval to controversial vaccine legislation Wednesday, prompting a chaotic scene among protesters in the chamber as the bill heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The Senate’s 28 – 11 vote came less than 24 hours after the Assembly approved the measure on Tuesday.
While the bill heads to Newsom, who previously pledged to sign it, there remains some uncertainty about the future of Senate Bill 276 by state Sen . Richard Pan (D-Sacramento). On Tuesday, Newsom’s office said in a message posted to Twitter that the governor wants changes to the legislation, which would tighten the state’s school immunization law.
A brief description of the requested changes provided by the governor’s office indicated Newsom wants fairly significant amendments that would help address some concerns by opponents. The changes would be made in a separate bill that would have to come before the Legislature before its September 13 deadline to pass bills.
Under SB 276, the California Department of Public Health would review and possibly reject medical exemptions written by doctors who have granted five or more in a year . Newsom is asking that the tally on how many medical exemptions a doctor writes apply only to those written after Jan. 1..
The bill calls for the Public Health Department to scrutinize a child’s medical exemption if they attend a school or day-care with immunization rates of less than 95%. Newsom’s office did not indicate whether those medical exemptions would be affected under the governor’s proposal.
SB 276 would also require doctors to certify, under penalty of perjury, that a medical exemption they sign is accurate. That provision would also be erased under Newsom’s proposal, which adds language to ensure individual medical information released to the state is not subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act.
Pan said his bill is needed to protect those who are too young or sick to be vaccinated.
“This bill is about being sure the children who really need the medical exemptions and therefore can’t be vaccinated to protect themselves, they have the protection of others at the school,” he said.
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