California · COVID-19

Calif. legislature eyes gutting bridge bill to institute vaccine mandate

Legislative leaders in the California Legislature are eyeing the potential of introducing vaccine mandate.

The question is when and , more importantly, how.

Capitol sources with knowledge, speaking to The Sun on the condition of anonymity, said that the Democrat-led legislative leadership was preparing to utilize the gut-and-amend procedure to strip the language of a bill presented to tweak passenger lanes and toll rules for the Bay Bridge and replace it with language mandating vaccines for public accommodations and in employment.

The draft language, obtained by The California Globe, requires “each person who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, who seeks to enter the indoor facilities of that establishment, to show proof to an employee or authorized agent of the establishment that the person has been vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Establishments are defined to include hotels and other lodging, restaurants and bars, movie theaters, concert halls, sports arenas and stadiums, and gyms.

Excluded are restaurants that exclusively offer takeout options.

It also institutes a vaccine mandate for employers, requiring eligible employees and job applicants to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The employer requirement applies to both public agencies and private employers, the draft language reads.

California’s Department of Public Health and Department of Fair Employment and Housing would be tasked with enforcement powers on the new law, enabling the latter agency to “bring a civil action for a violation fo this section including injunctive and other appropriate relief.”

The law also states that employees whose contracts begin after the enactment of the law and refuse vaccine mandate compliance would be able to be fired “to the extent allowable under state and federal law.”

Given past actions related to coronavirus measures, state enforcement of the vaccine mandate could spread far beyond the two agencies and into the state’s myriad of regulatory bodies – namely the the Department of Consumer Affairs – to rapidly bring state-licensed businesses into compliance.

The bill also includes 24 hours of supplemental paid sick leave for workers to get vaccinated or is “experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine.”

Speaking to Fox News on Friday, recall contender Asm. Kevin Kiley (R–Rocklin) described the routine, if controversial, process of completely altering bills at the 11th hour.

“What it does is it takes a bill that’s already been through the whole [legislative] process and strips out its contents entirely – then puts in something entirely different,” he said. “So it skips over, short-circuits, the entire legislative process and can just be passed without much scrutiny at all.”

Read the draft

Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.