OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Could Governor Brown Veto SB 277 Due to Missing Religious Exemption?

Posted by Chris Nguyen on June 18, 2015

So my post on Tuesday about the OC GOP opposing SB 277 has already cracked the top 10 posts of all time on OC Political, and it appears to be on pace to overtake #9 sometime this morning.  (For those of you wondering, #9 is Live from OCGOP Central Committee: Efforts to Remove Deborah Pauly as 1st Vice Chair from June 18, 2012. Note to self: June Central Committee meetings equal high readership.)

In light of this readership spike, I decided to do some more reading on SB 277, the bill by Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) to require vaccination of schoolchildren who do not have a medical exemption.  Existing law permits exemptions for medical reasons or personal belief.  In a nutshell, SB 277 would eliminate the personal belief exemption.

One of the most interesting items was AB 2109 of 2012 by then-Assemblyman Richard Pan (D-Sacramento).  AB 2109 required a health care practitioner to sign an attestation that they provided information regarding the benefits and risks of the immunization and the health risks of specified communicable diseases to a parent of the student in question.  AB 2109 also required a parent of the student to sign a statement that they received the information.


While Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2109 into law, he issued a signing message.  (Signing messages are an infrequent occurrence with just a handful of bills getting a signing message each year; the vast majority of bills are signed without such messages.)  The full text of the signing message follows:

This bill seeks to boost immunization rates for children in communities where vaccine rates are falling.

Current state law requires children to be vaccinated prior to enrollment in school or a child care facility, but allows a parent or guardian to opt out of this requirement based on a personal belief. This bill doesn’t change that.  Consistent with current law, AB 2109 allows parents with a personal belief to reject vaccination for their child.

This bill is about explaining the value of vaccinations – both the benefits and risks – for an individual child and the community. Whether these are simple “information exchanges” or more detailed discussions, they will be valuable even if a parent chooses not to vaccinate.

I am signing AB 2109 and am directing the Department of Public Health to oversee this policy so parents are not overly burdened by its implementation. Additionally, I will direct the department to allow for a separate religious exemption on the form. In this way, people whose religious beliefs preclude vaccinations will not be required to seek a health care practitioner’s signature.

In signing AB 2109, Brown spent half the second and fourth paragraphs discussing personal belief exemptions.  The fourth paragraph, the Governor, a former seminarian, issued his direction to the Department of Public Health to create a religious exemption on the form where they would not need to get a health care practitioner’s signature.  In other words, a religious exemption went around AB 2109.

This interesting post from a site called Science Blogs blasts Brown because they felt he “tried to water down the bill” and the he “blows it” for creating a religious exemption.

Putting aside the legality of the Governor’s direction to the Department of Public Health regarding AB 2109, this could be an opening for opponents of SB 277 to persuade Governor Brown to veto SB 277.

When SB 277 was introduced, Brown’s spokesman announced, “The governor believes that vaccinations are profoundly important and a major public health benefit and any bill that reaches his desk will be closely considered.”

Clearly, Brown wants to sign a bill that reduces exemptions, but it is entirely possible that he doesn’t want to eliminate the religious exemption.

According to this article and map by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 48 states allow religious exemptions (only Mississippi and West Virginia do not) but only 20 states allow philosophical exemptions (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin).

It could be that Governor Brown would want to eliminate the philosophical exemption but not the religious exemption.  The lack of a religious exemption could be the Achilles’ heel for SB 277 supporters and the silver bullet for SB 277 opponents.  Only time will tell.

The bill still needs a vote on the Assembly Floor and then another vote on the Senate Floor concurring to amendments made in the Assembly, but SB 277 is expected to survive both floor votes, at which point it will arrive on the Governor’s desk.

17 Responses to “Could Governor Brown Veto SB 277 Due to Missing Religious Exemption?”

  1. Tim Whitacre said

    Well done, Chris! What a great, timely follow up to your earlier post about the OCGOP passing the Resolution in support of Parental Rights and against SB 277. This post shines the light on the motives of Democrat Senator Pan and his self-serving SB 277, which would benefit big pharma at the expense of the people who can least afford to stand up and fight for their parental/individual rights. Well done indeed!

  2. Cincy Lyn said

    We can only hope Brown will uphold our constituional rights. I believe he is a good man and would be very surprised if he allowed such a violation to pass.This bill is unneccessary, unconstitutional, infringes on parental rights, infringes on the doctor-patient relationship and needs to be stopped.

  3. Freedom Lives said

    Yes, freedom is popular and it is a winning issue for Republicans! So glad to see they are catching on. Thank you for supporting parental rights and thank you for covering this very important issue.

  4. Nandini Minocha said

    Thank you for a thoughtful point of view on this issue. It is often presented by other news media & journalists as a one sided debate where you get opinions funded by Pharma & CMA but never any real facts. This is deep & nuanced issue & we need more journalists like you truly doing their job.

    Thank you for actually presenting facts.

  5. themagiconions said

    Thank you to the Republican Party of OC for standing up for human rights.

  6. sabrina said

    These are man made experiments. They let us know and we sign that we are aware ot the risks. Where there is a risk there should be a choice.
    Don’t give government nor state more control over you. Shots will still be available, just not because THEY say so, but because you chose.

  7. This is a manufactured issue. The PBE rate is only 2.54%. 100% theoretical maximum minus the PBE 2.54 = 97.46%. Any rates below 97.46% are unrelated to PBE use. There are a number of CDPH Policies that suppress the measurement
    of vaccination rates. Here is a detailed analysis with suggested improvements. https://www.scribd.com/mobile/documents/268051928/fullscreen
    Detailed Bill analysis including ” Dangerous Pockets” explanation as an artifact of using percentage measurement in a too small population.

  8. zumadoula said

    Thank you for this! I oppose SB 277 and I am so shocked to find out how many of our news outlets are paid off or Bought by Merck> Did you know Senator Pan also introduced a bill to mandate pharmaceuticals to prisoner? Psych drugs will be mandated–unbelievable! Someone has to stop this man.
    Keep up the good reporting! And thank GOD for Republicans who stand up for personal freedom.

  9. Melissa said

    Thank you for bringing this to light… there are so many who are unaware of what this bill is.

  10. Jessica said

    Thank you for this article. SB 277 is controversial because it coerces parents into vaccinating holding a child’s education ran some. This ruins informed medical consent. Only 1% of California school children are completely unvaccinated, and 2.5% are partially vaccinated. We have to maintain a right to say no. They will keep adding more vaccines to the schedule whether necessary or not because it is a huge money maker for the pharmaceutical industry when they have no liability for their product!

  11. Pam said

    No amount of watering down of this bill could make mandated vaccines for children viable for any reason. Vaccines come with many side affects and risks and are free from any liability. This is an overreach of government control for profit and not for health concern with children as individuals. One size does not fit all. If one individual is expendable, than we all are. Keep medical, religion and personal freedom in place. Thank you for writing about this. So many have no idea…

  12. Stacy said

    Thank you for bringing up this very important civil rights issue!

  13. J said

    Mandating a medical procedure is unconstitutional, period.

  14. Ingrid said

    one can only hope….

    Thanks for such a fair and balanced perspective on this issue.

  15. Brooke said

    Thank you for this article. SB277 is unconstitutional and unnecessary. And Governor Brown will hopefully uphold our constitutions rights by VETOING this terrible bill. It is my firm belief that Big Pharma shot themselves in the foot with this bill. Now thousands, if not more, parents, soon to be parents, grandparents and citizens are focused on learning the real dangers of vaccinations. Not even the millions or billions of dollars dedicated to the media and advertising from Pharma can stop this titlewave of truth. The media is finally starting to print some truths (of course watered down by trying to partly apease it’s contributors) but it’s a tide nonetheless! Now we welcome the African American community to our fight for our children and there’s more each day. The truth will finally come out about the CDC Whistleblower and the MERCK coverup about mmr being 3x more likely to cause Autism in Aftican American boys. (Look this up before you rattle on that “the science is settled, vaccines don’t cause autism” Do yourself a favor and research for at least 5 minutes this case, before you make yourself look foolish). William Thompson is awaiting his subpoena to testify that he omitted data about African American boys’ instance of Autism following MMR at MERCK’s orders. It’s real, it’s happening and the CDC will crumble from this. Vaccinations kill, injure and aren’t effective. No matter what the bought legislature votes, CDC is going down and we will not comply.

  16. john said

    Although the California Democratic Party in May supported eliminating the personal belief exemption, they did not support eliminating the religious exemption which one of the resolutions called for.

  17. Mia Willson said

    please veto this bill because it is an overreach of government and please respect the religious reasons that we hold against certain vaccines.

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