By Doug Porter
The California Senate Education Committee has approved a modified version of SB277, a controversial measure making vaccinations a prerequisite for enrollment in both private and public schools throughout the state.
Medical exemptions for inoculations will be permitted and amendments were added expanding homeschooling options for unvaccinated children. Gone will be the personal-belief and religious exemptions currently exercised by about 10% of parents with school aged children in California.
The Senate Committee’s action came the day after a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association ruled out the possibility that immunizations could cause autism in a small group of children who were already primed to develop the disorder.
From the Los Angeles Times:
A study of nearly 100,000 children found that toddlers known to have an elevated risk of autism were no more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder if they were vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella than if they weren’t. What’s more, the diagnosis rate for high-risk children who were vaccinated was the same as for immunized children with no family history of the disorder, according to the report published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.
By hunting for — and failing to find — a link between the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorders, or ASD, in children with an older sibling who had the disease, the study leaves no doubt that the two are not connected, experts said.
On Monday the Pediatrics Journal of the American Medical Association published a study concluding the most recent measles outbreak spread to seven states and two other countries thanks to parents who declined to vaccinate their children.
From another story at the Los Angeles Times:
In other words, the only way to explain how the measles spread from a single person at Disneyland to 145 people in the U.S. and about a dozen others in Canada and Mexico is that a substantial number of parents have not had their children fully immunized with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.
“Clearly, MMR vaccination rates in many of the communities that have been affected by this outbreak fall well below the necessary threshold to sustain herd immunity, thus placing the greater population at risk as well,” the researchers concluded….
…The index patient in the 3-month-old Disneyland outbreak was probably exposed to the measles overseas and then visited the Anaheim amusement park while contagious, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This particular strain of measles is identical to one that spread through the Philippines last year, where it sickened about 58,000 people and killed 110.
SB277, authored by Sen. Richard Pan, a Democratic pediatrician from Sacramento, passed 7-2, with bipartisan support on its second try. The bill has to clear two more committees and the full Senate before it moves on to what is expected to face stiff opposition in the Assembly.
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,” a spokesman for his office said.
Opponents of the proposed legislation have organized around an emotionally charged campaign based on the premise that vaccines are not safe.
From the IBTimes:
Several rallies have taken place across the state this month leading up to the bill’s consideration in the state Legislature. “Everybody’s rights shouldn’t be taken away,” Maria Ewell, who attended one such rally in San Diego on April 8, told KNSD-TV. “It’s up to how you feel, your religious beliefs, your kid’s immune system.” Robert Kennedy Jr., who recently appeared at a Sacramento screening of the documentary film “Trace Amounts,” which links vaccines to autism, likened the number of children he said have been injured by vaccines to the Holocaust — a comment for which he later apologized…
…Critics pulled no punches when it came to outing the lawmakers behind the bill. Images appeared online comparing the bill’s backer, Democratic state Sen. Richard Pan, who is also a pediatrician, to Adolf Hitler. Some parents have even threatened to pull their kids out of school if the bill passes in an attempt to divert public funding. “Unfortunately, there is a subsegment of the group that seems to want to engage in vitriol and intimidation and bullying in order to get their way,” Pan said, as the Associated Press reported.
“Other states will be looking carefully at the California experience if this goes through,” said Dr. Eric Kodish, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Ethics, Humanities and Spiritual Care. “If they become a place where, as I would predict, fewer children get sick and die, it’s something other states would want to look at.”
Minimum Wage Opponents’ Secret Weapon: Free Tacos
Despite calls nationally for a $15 minimum wage, Democrats in Congress are apparently coalescing around incremental increases to $12 an hour by 2020, according to the New York Times.
The legislation will be introduced by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate committee that deals with labor issues. A companion proposal will come from Rep.Robert C. Scott on the House side.
Among the up to 20 Democrats who already back the effort in the Senate are Harry Reid of Nevada, the current Democratic leader, and Charles E. Schumer of New York, his chosen successor.
The party clearly sees the legislation, which has a snowball’s chance in hell of passing, as a way to make inequality a central campaign issue in the 2016 elections.
From Lee Fang, via the Unofficial Sources blog:
On Tuesday afternoon, to thank congressional staffers for all they do on behalf of the fast food industry, franchisees hosted their annual reception at the Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill, a free food giveway in which staffers and interns gorged themselves on unlimited free Taco Bell tacos and nachos.
Workers at the event, which packed two rooms, said they gave away some 6,000 tacos in all…
…Louis Brown, a franchisee from San Diego, said that congressional staffers would ask him about the reception during his meetings with them. “Every office we went to, they knew about this. Everybody,” he chuckled.
The Taco Bell lobby has had success with this Congress. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed a bill to change the cutoff for defining a full-time employee under the new health care law from 30 to 40 hours, a change that would relieve many franchisees from having to provide health insurance to their workers. Republican leaders have blocked attempts to raise the federal minimum wage, which stands at $7.25 an hour.
Filling Marti Emerald’s Void
Councilwomen Marti Emerald’s announcement last week that she’ll be stepping down as the representative for District 9 took many in San Diego by surprise.
From Fox 5:
San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald said Wednesday her battle against breast cancer played no role in her decision not to seek reelection next year.
“It’s just time. I want to focus on my health, my life…I’d like to travel,” she said to neighbors and fellow politicians at a press conference Wednesday in City Heights.
Emerald was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and has been undergoing treatment that caused her to lose her hair, which has been growing back recently. The physical impact of her treatments has caused Emerald to miss occasional City Council meetings.
“It’s just time to turn a page to a new chapter in my life,” Emerald said.
“It has been my extreme honor and privilege to serve, it’s just been a highlight of my life,” the former television troubleshooter said. “And we still have a year and a half to go, so I’m not gone yet.”
At yesterday’s presser Emerald gave her giving her blessing to Ricardo Flores, currently serving as her chief of staff, as her replacement on the City Council.
“He’s the one that goes out and builds consensus,” Emerald said. “He’s the one who does the behind-the-scenes work to get things done. He’s built a great staff, and with any other candidate, all of that momentum will stop.”
Before joining Emerald’s office, Flores was a community representative for Democratic Rep.Susan Davis.
“Really working with the community day to day, understanding their issues, understanding what their concerns are, understanding what their hopes are, their aspirations are, that’s really important,” Flores said.
Although the Fox5 report made the claim that Flores was born and bred in D9, I’m told he just moved back into the district last week so he’d be eligible to run.
There are reportedly four other candidates seriously considering a run for the seat.
On This Day: 1872 – Charlotte E. Ray became the African-American woman lawyer. 1993 -United Farm Workers of America founder Cesar Chavez died in San Luis, Ariz. at age 66. 2005 – The first video was uploaded to YouTube.com.
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