In the News

Freshman senator wins plaudits from colleagues

July 4, 2015

When word of a measles outbreak at Disneyland hit the nightly news six months ago, state Sen. Richard Pan began fielding calls from panicked parents. They worried that their children could be exposed to the infectious disease and wanted to know what he planned to do to keep them safe.

The just-elected senator from Sacramento toyed with the idea of new rules requiring schools to publicize their immunization rates so concerned parents would know which ones to avoid. But he soon realized that strategy wouldn't go far enough.

By: Editorial Board

April 19, 2015

Twenty-nine states require schoolchildren to be vaccinated unless they can prove they should have a medical or religious exemption. Two more allow opt-outs only with a doctor’s note.

Somehow the children in these states have managed to get an education, though their communities surely include the odd anti-vaxxer who thinks people shouldn’t have to immunize kindergartners if they don’t want to. If nearly two-thirds of the rest of the country can protect public health and public education at the same time, so can California.

By: Tracy Seipel

April 18, 2015

SACRAMENTO -- California's Constitution spells out the right to a free public education, and lawmakers have fortified that guarantee over the years by safeguarding students against discrimination and inequality in the classroom.

But now a debate over that protected access to an education has surfaced in the most contentious legislative battle in Sacramento this year: Does one student's right to an education trump another student's right to stay healthy?

April 16, 2015

On Wednesday, state Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) agreed to delay a Senate Education Committee vote on a contentious bill (SB 277) that would tighten the state's childhood vaccination requirements, the Los Angeles Times' "PolitiCal" reports (McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 4/15).

Details of 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:

By: Jeremy B. White

April 15, 2015

Bowing to concerns from parents and lawmakers that children would be denied an education, a state senator on Wednesday delayed a vote on a bill requiring most California parents to vaccinate their children as a condition of enrolling them in private or public schools.

As they did for last week’s vote, hundreds of parents, many trailing or toting children, massed in the corridors of the state Capitol to voice their strenuous opposition to Senate Bill 277. They implored lawmakers not to pass a bill they denounced for allowing the state to dictate how people raise their children.

By: Patrick McGreevy

April 14, 2015

California has become a battleground between the tobacco industry and health groups as lawmakers push proposals that include increasing cigarette taxes by $2 a pack and raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21.

The state once led the nation in snuffing out smoking, but health activists say a strong tobacco lobby and a lack of political will have blocked new efforts in recent years.

"We used to be leaders, and we are not anymore," said Stanton A. Glantz, a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco.

By: Tracy Seipel

April 13, 2015

As he seeks to push his controversial vaccine bill through another committee vote Wednesday, Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, is expected to confront a legion of even more determined opponents than he witnessed last week when Senate Bill 277 cleared its first hurdle.

But this time, adversaries of the bill -- which would repeal the state's personal belief exemption and require that only children who have been immunized for diseases such as measles and whooping cough be admitted to a school in California -- are returning with what they say is a powerful trump card.

By: Judy Lin

April 10, 2015

ACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California bill that would sharply limit vaccination waivers after a measles outbreak at Disneyland has generated such an acidic debate that the proposal's author was under added security this week.

Authorities wouldn't specify the extra protections around state Sen. Richard Pan on Friday, but the level of anger over the measure has been clear.

Opponents have flooded the Capitol to stand up for parental rights, and images that compare Pan to Adolf Hitler have circulated online.

By: David Gorn

April 9, 2015

On Wednesday, lawmakers took the first step toward passage of a bill that would end the personal-belief exemption for childhood immunizations in California.

The Senate Committee on Health on Wednesday voted to approve SB 277 by state Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento). It would stop California parents from opting out of immunizations for their schoolchildren unless there is a medical or religious reason to refuse vaccination.

By: Judy Lin

April 9, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- California lawmakers on Wednesday advanced a bill that would require schoolchildren in the state to be vaccinated amid impassioned pleas from parents and doctors, even activist Robert Kennedy Jr.

Under the proposal, parents would no longer be able to send unvaccinated kids to school with waivers citing religious or personal beliefs. Exemptions would be available only for children with health problems.

Supporters say the measure would increase the number of vaccinated young people and improve public health.

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