Activists shut down both chambers of the California state legislature with protests and chanting against a set of bills seeking to tighten school vaccine exemptions.
Protesters on Monday took over the halls of the state capitol building, chanted in the halls and demonstrated outside of the office of the California governor, Gavin Newsom, but they were unable to prevent the legislation from passing or Newsom from signing the bills into law.
The new bills restrict medical exemptions for school vaccinations, further tightening California’s already strict vaccination regulations.
“As the latest measles outbreak threatens the country’s elimination status, California acted to keep children safe at school by abolishing non-medical exemptions,” Senator Richard Pan, the author of the bill, said in a statement.
Protestors of California’s vaccine bill SB276 have taken over the building.— Ashley Zavala (@ZavalaA) September 9, 2019
One group is chanting in the Assembly gallery.
Another is pounding on the Senate chamber walls.
Another is outside the Governor’s office.
Both houses forced into recess. pic.twitter.com/9oc8GwQM0Y
So grateful for the sergeants right now. We honestly feel like our office is about to get stormed but I know they are out there keeping this under control. It sounds like they are banging on our doors (they are banging on the doors to the Senate gallery) #CAleg pic.twitter.com/my9zHo1ugV— Katie Hanzlik (@katie_hanz) September 9, 2019
Capitol #sb276 protest update: N street (south) entrance is completely closed. There are protestors outside L street side (north) but currently you can still walk in. East side is currently clear. Protest outside @GavinNewsom office pic.twitter.com/8P01J2mcEU— Melody Gutierrez (@MelodyGutierrez) September 9, 2019
The bills closed a loophole in the state’s 2015 vaccine legislation, which had already eliminated religious and personal exemptions for school vaccinations. Following the passing of the 2015 rules, however, the number of medical exemptions began to increase. The new regulations create a standardized statewide medical exemption request to prevent doctors from issuing phony medical exemptions.
A version of the bills had passed both the state senate and assembly last week but was temporarily stalled when the California governor requested amendments.
Newsom reached an agreement with Pan that he would sign the bill once those amendments cleared the legislature.
Monday’s protests came weeks after Pan, who has earned a reputation for his pro-vaccination legislation, was shoved from behind by a protester near the capitol building.