A trio of local state legislators denounced Friday a rewrite of Assembly Bill 1102, a bill that would now allow employers in California to require COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.
AB 1102, authored by Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Palo Alto, used “gut-and-amend” to strip and replace the entire contents of the bill – originally introduced as a “telephone medical advice services” bill in February.
Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, is also anticipated to use “gut-and-amend” to convert Assembly Bill 455 from a transportation bill to one creating a vaccine mandate.
New language for both bills had not been published on the state Legislature’s legislation information website, as of Friday afternoon.
“I am opposed to these proposals. If passed, we would be essentially excluding anyone not vaccinated – no matter what the reason – from participating in public life,” Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, said in a statement. “While I am vaccinated, and encourage people to get vaccinated, it is a personal choice and not a one-size-fits-all solution.”
Wilk, the Senate Republican leader, also criticized the use of the “gut-and-amend” approach, which averts the legislative committee process.
“This will have monumental consequences for millions of Californians and jamming it through this late in the legislative session without proper public vetting is just plain wrong,” he said.
Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, told The Signal he found the “gut-and-amend” process to be the “most objectionable piece” of the issue.
“The process was designed for emergencies because what it does is it disallows public input,” he said of “gut-and-amend.” “It’s a last-minute jam down your throat instead of a thoughtful engagement with those who sent us to make these decisions as well as each one of us (legislators).”
In his seven years in the Legislature, Lackey said, this regularly used process has been abused and he called it “shameful.” A bill addressing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, he said, shouldn’t use the “gut-and-amend” process.
“(COVID-19 has) been a disaster the whole legislative session,” Lackey said. “So why don’t (the bills’ authors) use the regular (legislative) process for that?”
Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, said she is “pro-vaccine and fully vaccinated” in a statement responding to the two bills.
“I have hosted several vaccine clinics in my district and I encourage everyone who is eligible to get the vaccine,” she said. “But I also respect the public’s health and medical privacy and believe we need to protect that while caring for public health.”
The language for AB 455 is “quickly evolving as the (Assembly) members continue their conversations with various stakeholders,” Erin Ivie, a spokeswoman for Assemblywoman Wicks, told The Signal in a prepared statement.
Ivie said Wicks’ office should have a version of the bill in the first half of next week. The bill will contain “updates (and the) most accurate language and/or information about whether or not the proposed bill will move forward,” she said.
Assemblyman Low and Sen. Henry Stern, D-Calabasas, did not respond to requests for comment.
This story was updated Aug. 27 at 5:43 p.m.