The Sacramento Bee

Senator who wrote mandatory vaccines bill attends March for Science in Washington

April 21, 2017

By Alexei Kosef

So how goes the “resistance” to President Donald Trump? Protesters are gearing up for their second major event in a week, following on last weekend’s national Tax March with a March for Science planned for Saturday in cities across the country, including Sacramento.

Fresh off the success of his 2015 mandatory vaccine bill – California announced last week that kindergarten vaccination rates have risen to their highest level in more than 15 years – state Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, is traveling to Washington, D.C., with other vaccine advocates to attend the main science march. He noted that Trump has expressed skepticism about the safety of vaccines, repeating debunked claims that link them to autism.

Pan, a doctor, said the march is particularly relevant as the federal government cuts funding for scientific research: “I’m going because I think it’s important for me to reach out to connect with other people from across the country to talk about what we can do to protect science.”

The Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a resolution in support of the march that “urges the President and the Congress of the United States to work together to support, encourage, and heed the truths established by scientists and scientific research in policymaking.”

Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, slammed the measure as a “thinly veiled political attack on the current president” and criticized the Legislature for pushing “a radical left anti-Trump agenda.” The author, Assemblyman Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, apologized and offered to “lift that veil.”

“This is a very direct attempt. And I don’t care who’s in the White House,” Stone said. “If there’s an administration that is in current denial of the benefits of science, what we’ve learned from science and how to apply that in policy, this resolution stands.”

It was ultimately approved 65-1, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats in support and Allen voting no.

WORTH REPEATING: “That is a benefit of not being a priest.” – Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, after saying his decision to become a scientist instead of a priest “wasn’t about women, honestly.”

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE: One of the most effective lobbying tools in the Capitol, the California Chamber of Commerce’s annual list of “job killer” bills, is out for 2017. Among the 23 measures it slapped with the dreaded label – for legislation that it argues will have a negative impact on the business climate in the state – is Senate Bill 562, an effort by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, to bring single-payer health care to California. Other bills CalChamber is opposing include Assembly Bill 5, from Assembly members Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, and Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, which would require employers to offer part-time workers additional hours before hiring another part-time worker; Assembly Bill 479, by Gonzalez and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, raising the excise tax on hard alcohol to pay for a sales tax exemption for diapers and tampons; and Assembly Bill 1512, from Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, to fund addiction prevention and rehabilitation programs with a surcharge on prescription painkillers. You can explore the entire list here.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Gov. Jerry Brown once again ripped Trump for dismissing climate change as a Chinese hoax

COME TOGETHER: With Congress on recess this week, California representatives have been back at home, facing their constituents … and getting quite an earful. Even some Democrats, like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, haven’t escaped the scathing anger over the Trump administration. Will freshman Sen. Kamala Harris, who has rapidly become a darling of Democrats since she was elected last November, fare better? She faces the crowds at her first town hall as a new senator, 3:30 p.m. at Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles.

MUST READ: An effort is brewing to recall one of the Democratic senators who voted to raise California fuel taxes.

BABY, YOU’RE A RICH MAN: Two years after passing a law to expand the state’s equal-pay protections, California lawmakers are keeping the conversation about the gender wage gap going with a series of hearings on its causes and solutions. The Senate Select Committee on Women and Inequality, the Senate Labor Committee, the California Legislative Women’s Caucus and the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls will jointly host a review of “implicit bias,” the subconscious prejudices we may unknowingly harbor, and how it affects women in the workplace, 10 a.m. at the Rose Hills Auditorium in Los Angeles.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, who turns 63 today. And early well wishes to Assemblyman Phillip Chen, R-Diamond Bar, who will be 39 tomorrow; Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, who will be 46 tomorrow; Assemblyman Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley, who is 40 on Sunday; and Rep. Norma Torres, D-Pomona, who is 52 on Sunday.