Capitol Alert

Anti-vaccine protesters disrupt California Assembly committee hearing with loud chants

Anti-vaccine activists disrupted the California Assembly’s Appropriations Committee Friday in another late attempt to derail a proposed law that would restrict children’s medical exemptions for vaccines that are mandatory in schools.

The proposal, Senate Bill 276, cleared the committee, setting up a vote on the Assembly floor before moving to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Several vaccine activists began standing on chairs in the committee room Friday morning, chanting, “You have not represented California for all.”

Committee Chairwoman Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, temporarily adjourned the meeting while California Highway Patrol officers spoke with the activists.

Gonzalez called lawmakers back to the hearing for votes, and the activists resumed their chanting.

“I understand you want to get arrested. You have been clear on that,” Gonzalez said to them.

Stefanie Fetzer, one of the protestors, said officers told them that standing on chairs is a liability.

“Our answer to that is, SB 276 will inevitability harm injure or kill children if they’re vaccinated again doctors recommendations, and no one is worried about the liability for those injuries or deaths,” Fetzer said.

She said her children have experienced adverse effects from vaccinations. “We just want people to listen to us.”

The protest comes two days after hundreds of vaccine-skeptic families rallied in front of the Capitol.

Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, wrote SB 276 to rein in what he calls “unscrupulous” doctors who have granted medical exemptions for dubious reasons. Those exemptions, Pan says, have created pockets where vaccination rates have declined.

Pan wrote a 2015 law that banned personal belief exemptions for vaccines. Gov. Gavin Newsom has indicated he would sign SB 276 if it reaches his desk.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

Elaine Chen, from the University of Chicago, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee. She grew up in the Bay Area and later in Beijing, China.