MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 277 — April 30, 2015

The last time I took a few days of vacation time was over the 4th of July break last summer. Last fall, I planned a short backpacking trip for April with a friend and our sons, an infrequent tradition that was long overdue. Our hike in the San Rafael Wilderness fell the first three days of this week. Consequently, I missed the Judiciary Committee meeting on Wednesday.

The hike was great and the outcome of the Committee meeting went as predicted. I want to thank my colleague, Sen. Joel Anderson, for carrying the water on our shared opposition to SB 277.

I have had a public position since this bill was introduced, see and the excerpt below:

Former Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, a candidate in the March 17 special election in the 37th Senate District against Wagner, said he wanted to be “sensitive” to the concerns of parents who fear vaccinations lead to health issues such as autism and would prefer an educational campaign before mandating shots.

Moorlach said he understands the fears of some parents who think there is a link to some vaccines and autism because science has not uncovered a cause for the disorder.

“We need to look at it in a humane way so that we’re not looking like a dictatorship demanding that people do things,” Moorlach said.

“It would be really helpful to clearly demonstrate there’s no correlation between vaccines and autism. I think forcing it is a little premature.”

Laguna Beach Patch, February 5, 2015

I apologize for the conflict that caused me to miss the meeting, but a short break and time with my two sons was long overdue. The San Jose Mercury News and California Healthline (with links) cover the story below, respectively.

the question over who owns your body versus what’s the limit to public health

In the debate over who owns one’s body versus what is the limit to public health, I am very uncomfortable about forcing vaccinations on children when there are legitimate concerns that are held by certain parents (see Without getting into a lengthy discussion, I would just state that certain infants have had reactions to vaccinations. And education and modification may go a lot further than mandatory requirements.

San Jose Mercury News

California vaccine legislation advances in Senate Judiciary Committee

By Tracy Seipel


Agreeing to a slight modification, a state legislative panel on Tuesday easily advanced controversial legislation that would no longer allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their children.

In a 5-1 vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee agreed that Senate Bill 277 abides by California and federal law that protects the public’s health and safety over individual rights.

Sen. Joel Anderson, R-San Diego, was the only no vote. Sen. John M. W. Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, who is the committee vice chair, was not present.

The proposed legislation would eliminate personal belief and religious exemptions for vaccines, and unvaccinated children could not attend public or private school in California. They would have to be home-schooled.

On Tuesday, the bill was amended to include a new provision that would limit vaccinations to only those 10 vaccines currently required by California Department of Public Health. Parents would be allowed to obtain a personal belief exemption for any vaccine added in the future.

If this bill becomes law, California would become only the third state — in addition to Mississippi and West Virginia — to offer only medical exemptions.

The bill was crafted in February by Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento and Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, in the wake of a December measles outbreak that started at Disneyland.

The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Contact Tracy Seipel at 408 920-5343 and follow her at

California Healthline

Third Senate Panel Advances California Vaccine Bill After Amendment

On Tuesday, the California Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill (SB 277) that would end all personal belief exemptions to childhood vaccination requirements, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (AP/San Francisco Chronicle 4/28).

SB 277, by state Sens. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Ben Allen (D-Redondo Beach), would:

  • Only allow children who have received vaccinations for certain diseases, such as measles and whooping cough, to be admitted to schools in the state; and
  • Require schools to inform parents of immunization rates.

The bill would allow exemptions for medical reasons.

In addition, Pan and Allen proposed amendments to broaden the bill’s exemption for home-schooled children after a state Senate Education Committee vote on the bill was delayed when opponents raised concerns about children missing out on an education if their parents refused to vaccinate them.

The amendments would allow unvaccinated children to:

  • Enroll in private home-schooling programs that serve multiple families, rather than programs that serve just one family; and
  • Participate in independent study projects that are overseen by school districts but do not include classroom time

The Senate Education Committee passed the amended bill last week (California Healthline, 4/27).

Details of Judiciary Committee Vote

The state Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill after it was amended again, this time to limit application of the mandate to just the 10 vaccines currently required by the California Department of Public Health, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Under the amended bill, parents would be able to seek personal belief exemptions to any vaccines that DPH adds to requirements in the future.

The committee voted 5-1 to send the bill to the Senate Appropriations Committee. State Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) voted against the measure, while state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) was absent from the vote (Seipel, San Jose Mercury News, 4/28).

Comments During Hearing

During the hearing, New York University law scholar Mary Holland argued that the bill would undermine informed consent and discriminate against certain families. She said the bill "will be challenged in state and federal courts."

However, Allen said the bill was supported by legal precedent.

He said, "The courts have been clear. The state has a right to require vaccinations for attendance in school" (White, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 4/28).

Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), said the state government has a compelling interest to require vaccinations among schoolchildren.

Jackson said, "This bill ultimately is about the health and well-being of our children and what in the world is more important than that," adding, "It is our responsibility to protect the public health and safety" (McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 4/28).

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