Capitol Alert

AM Alert: California vaccine bill opponents reach their deadline

A fish tank filled with 50 goldfish - equal to the number of vaccine injections mandated for children up to age 18 is displayed at a booth at the Lodi Grape Festival in Lodi on Friday, September 18, 2015.
A fish tank filled with 50 goldfish - equal to the number of vaccine injections mandated for children up to age 18 is displayed at a booth at the Lodi Grape Festival in Lodi on Friday, September 18, 2015. rbenton@sacbee.com

If you spent any time in the state Capitol from April to June, you remember the epic struggle over a bill making vaccination a precondition of enrolling in California schools. The floods of red-shirted volunteers, the marathon hearings, appearances by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: it was one of the year’s defining debates.

The legislative effort ended when Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 277. But the ballot battle could still be joined: opponents of the law have been hitting the streets to try and drum up signatures for a referendum, and Monday is the deadline to turn in their signatures. Referendum backers project supreme confidence about their chances to get to 365,880 signatures, pointing to a statewide grassroots movement that has been bolstered by assists from chiropractors – who you may recall playing a role in the legislative fight – and churches.

But if they do qualify, it’s unclear where they’d get the money needed to run a statewide ballot campaign, particularly since it seems likely some heavyweight institutional supporters of SB 277 would spend to defend. We’ll soon know if things will advance to that point.

If the measure secures enough legitimate signatures, it will join a likely-to-be-crowded ballot already containing a referendum that would trash California’s ban on single-use plastic bags.

NEST EGG: A few years after carrying legislation to create state-sponsored retirement plans for private employees, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, will be talking about the new state board’s investment products during a briefing organized by the Aspen Institute. He’ll be joined by investment experts and U.S. Department of the Treasury official J. Mark Iwry. Starting at 9 a.m. at the CalSTRS building in West Sacramento.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, who turns 46 today.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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