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Sen. Richard Pan. (Kevin Sanders for California Globe)
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Senate Pres. Atkins Putting the Squeeze on Gov. Newsom over Vaccine Exemption Bill Fight

Sen. Pan’s ‘end-run’ on the rules, with no notice, to shorten the timeline and ramrod SB 276 through

By Katy Grimes, September 7, 2019 7:37 am

Earlier this week, California Globe asked if Sen. Richard Pan was jamming Gov. Newsom on the Vaccine Exemption bill, SB 276?

We also asked, “Why did legislative leaders bring SB 276 to vote in Assembly and Senate before the Governor’s amendments added?”

Friday, Senate President pro Tem Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) issued the following statement, putting the squeeze on Gov. Gavin Newsom regarding Senate Bill 276 by Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento):

Sen. Toni G. Atkins. (Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

“As President pro Tem of the Senate, I have fully supported Senator Pan’s decisions on how to move forward on SB 276.  SB 276 has been vigorously vetted and negotiated for months and deserves to be enacted on its merits in the form that was agreed to. Having a signature on SB 276 makes it easier to move forward with new language that has been proposed. Dr. Pan, other Senators and Assemblymembers who support SB 276 have faced threats and harassment. Besides the clear public health value of SB 276, it is important that we send the message that loud and violent will not drown out reason and science in how we govern California.”

The Science is Settled… or is it?

Tuesday, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) referred to “fake medical exemptions” when presenting SB 276. She said the bill is “based on science.”

In Wednesday’s Senate debate Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) also referred to science. “This is about science, and whether we believe it. We’ve seen it around climate change – there are people who deny science.” Wiener said, “this is unacceptable.”

While debating the “science,” and the collective health of the state, the unspoken “collateral damage” of the vaccine-injured children was a constant undercurrent. Not once did Sen. Pan ever acknowledge or address vaccine-injured children.

Recently, in a California Globe op ed, Attorney Mary Holland asked, “When a physician decides that a child is too medically fragile to receive a vaccine, but is not allowed to submit a medical exemption because it is not a listed CDC contraindication, and that child suffers a life-threatening reaction, such as multiple seizures or encephalitis (both listed on vaccine manufacturer inserts), is the doctor liable, or the state official, who denied the exemption?”

Her question has not been answered by anyone in the California Legislature.

“At bottom, this bill penalizes both doctors and children, and discriminates against children who’ve been harmed through no fault of their own. Lawmakers need to understand: to vote for this bill is to cast a vote for discrimination,” Human Rights Attorney Leigh Dundas said.

 “SB 276 is trying to legislate discrimination against a federally-protected class of disabled citizens – children who cannot vote or lobby on their own behalf – while having the state government illegally practice medicine over the top of the doctors in this state,” Dundas said. “We are on the wrong side of history, and all involved would be well-served to decline to participate.”

“…it is important that we send the message that loud and violent will not drown out reason and science in how we govern California,” said Sen. Toni Atkins. The thousands of parents who traveled to the Capitol for every hearing of SB 276 are being accused of violence. But they say they were ignored and treated rudely by the lawmakers pushing this bill.

Attorney Leigh Dundas added: “That the bill’s author sought this afternoon to end-run the rules set up for this democratic process – and with no notice, shorten his timeline and ramrod his bill through while other vested stakeholders were still working diligently on amendments – is proof that the author could not afford for the above evidence to come out.”

Inquiring minds want to know what else is really behind this bill: “This is an issue of control now,” Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Van Nuys) said in opposition to SB 276.

UPDATE: Governor Newsom and Sen. Pan came to an agreement over amendments: “The amendments would give school children grace periods that could last several years on existing medical exemptions,” KQED reported. “For instance, a kindergartener with an exemption could retain it through 6th grade, while a 7th grader could be exempted through high school.”

Katy Grimes

Katy Grimes, the Editor of the California Globe, is a long-time Investigative Journalist covering the California State Capitol, and the co-author of California's War Against Donald Trump: Who Wins? Who Loses?
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One thought on “Senate Pres. Atkins Putting the Squeeze on Gov. Newsom over Vaccine Exemption Bill Fight

  1. According to the 1986 federal vaccine law shielding vaccine manufacturers from liability for patient injury, the doctor is also shielded. I imagine the state official who made the final determination would also be shielded, since that person is acting on behalf of the medical establishment.

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