Policy Committees Advance Number of Bills, Pan Unveils Vaccination Exemption Measure

The California Legislature maintained a robust pace of committee hearings this week as it continues to shift from informational hearings to more substantive bill hearings. Two weeks remain before the Legislature’s 10-day Spring Recess which is set to begin on April 11.

Notably this week, Senator Richard Pan gutted and amended SB 276 which would require physicians to submit a CDPH-developed statewide standardized immunization medical exemption request form and require the state public health officer or public health officer’s designee to approve or deny the request upon determining sufficient medical evidence that the immunization is contraindicated utilizing guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) would be required to create and maintain a database of approved medical exemption requests and make available the database to local health officers. The state public health officer and local public health officers would be authorized to revoke a medical exemption if it is determined that the exemption is fraudulent or inconsistent with applicable CDC guidelines.

In a statement, Senator Pan discussed how the measure would strengthen oversight of the medical exemption process and increase public health and safety. The measure is sponsored by the California Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, California, and Vaccinate California. Recall, Pan carried SB 277 (Chapter 35, Statutes of 2015), which removed the personal belief exemption for required immunizations for school and daycare admission.

Below, we highlight several actions taken on bills this week of interest to CHEAC Members. The full CHEAC Weekly Bill Chart is available here.

Chronic Disease Prevention and Wellness Promotion

SB 347 (Monning) as introduced on February 19, 2019 – SUPPORT

SB 347 by Senator Bill Monning was heard in the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday. The measure would require labels of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) to bear the safety warning, “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay.” The safety warnings would be required for vending machines, dispensing machines, and points of purchase for any unsealed SSBs. CHEAC previously supported identical measures, carried by Senator Bill Monning in Assembly Member Rob Bonta in 2017, which were both unsuccessful. After extensive discussion around whether SB 347 is the right approach to curbing SSB consumption, the measure was advanced out of the Senate Health Committee on a 5-1 vote with three members not voting. The measure now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Environmental Health

AB 1500 (Carrillo) as introduced on February 22, 2019 – SUPPORT

Assembly Member Wendy Carrillo’s AB 1500 was heard in the Assembly Environmental Safety & Toxic Materials Committee on Tuesday. AB 1500 would strengthen local enforcement authority in instances of hazardous substance release. Local health officers would be authorized to issue orders against responsible parties and unified program agencies (UPAs) would be authorized to suspend, revoke, or withhold facility permits under specified circumstances. The measure is co-sponsored by Los Angeles County and the California Association of Environmental Health Administrators (CAEHA). AB 1500 was advanced to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a 6-0 vote with three members not voting.

Health Coverage/Health Care Reform

AB 848 (Gray) as introduced on February 20, 2019 – SUPPORT

AB 848 by Assembly Member Adam Gray was heard in the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday. This measure would add continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and related supplies as a Medi-Cal covered benefit when medically necessary for the treatment of diabetes. The measure was advanced unanimously from the Assembly Health Committee to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Injury Prevention

AB 645 (Irwin) as amended on March 6, 2019 – SUPPORT

Assembly Member Jacqui Irwin’s AB 645 was heard in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday. AB 645 would add to existing warning labels on firearms and signage at licensed firearm dealer premises language stating, “If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,” with the applicable phone number. The measure would also require the Department of Justice (DOJ) firearm safety certificate course and written acknowledgement to cover the topic of suicide prevention. CHEAC supports this measure as a means to increase the availability of information on suicide prevention resources. AB 645 was advanced unanimously from the Assembly Public Safety Committee to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Tobacco Control

SB 38 (Hill) as introduced on December 3, 2018 – SUPPORT

SB 38 by Senator Jerry Hill was heard on Wednesday in a packed Senate Health Committee. The measure, co-authored by nearly 20 legislators, would prohibit a tobacco retailer from selling or offering to sell any flavored tobacco product. In his presentation, Senator Hill cited the alarming increase of flavored tobacco products among California youth as the need for the measure, and supporters included a significant number of children and youth from across the state. Those in opposition to the measure largely consisted of business interests, tobacco-related industry representatives, and retailers. CHEAC supports SB 38 to reduce the availability and access of tobacco products. SB 38 was advanced from the Senate Health Committee to the Senate Appropriations Committee on an 8-1 vote.

SB 39 (Hill) as introduced on December 3, 2018 – SUPPORT

SB 39 by Senator Hill was also heard in the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday. SB 39 would strengthen existing STAKE Act provisions by requiring mail-order tobacco products to be packaged in a container with specified conspicuous labeling and by requiring the signature of a recipient 21 years of age or older upon delivery of mail-order products. These provisions are similar to existing statute governing alcohol delivery. SB 39 was unanimously advanced from the Senate Health Committee to the Senate Appropriations Committee.