IRVINE, Calif.—Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks said she will hold her proposed statewide vaccine verification bill, Assembly Bill 455, from moving forward in the State Legislature until 2022, “in order to allow more time to create the strongest policy possible and provide for additional stakeholder collaboration.”
“I’m proud of the framework we’ve created for this bill, and of the collaboration that’s taken place among such a diverse group of stakeholders. I’m committed to working with my colleagues and key stakeholders to make this the strongest bill possible headed into 2022,” she said in an Aug. 30 statement.
Originally a transportation bill meant to address the San Francisco Bay Bridge Corridor, AB 455 has been thoroughly amended to become a bill requiring employers to mandate COVID-19 vaccines or weekly testing of employees.
“While I believe that vaccines are an important tool we have for beating COVID-19, and encourage all to consult with their doctors and strongly consider getting vaccinated, I continue to believe that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is a personal choice that should be honored. For this reason, I am opposed to AB 455 as proposed to be amended,” said State Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa) in an Aug. 30 statement.
Around 65,000 people in California have been reported as dying from COVID-19, although specific data on co-morbidity issues associated with those deaths is not readily available. According to 2019 Census numbers, California’s total population is estimated to be about 39.5 million.
The state is one of the most populated states in the nation, the fifth largest economy in the world, and the largest economy in the United States.
According to the bill, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing published guidance on March 4, 2021 entitled “Employment Information on COVID-19,” which noted that under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), an employer may require employees to receive a vaccination against COVID-19.
The proposed bill states “The Legislature further finds and declares that this legislation, which would establish new proof-of-vaccination requirements for public establishments, as defined, and employment, is reasonable and necessary to address this monumental public health crisis and to protect the public health and well-being of the people of California.”
If passed in 2022 as proposed currently, the bill would require that all employers, in both public and private sectors, require all employees eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, to show proof of vaccination or take a weekly COVID-19 test.
Wicks, in partnership with Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), Asm. Akilah Weber, M.D. (D-San Diego), Asm. Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley), Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), and Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), said in the statement that she will continue to work on the proposed bill language as they head into the next legislative session.
“Every day, thousands of Californians are newly affected by this virus—and we have a collective responsibility to do all we can to protect each and every one of them,” Wicks said in a press release.
“It’s on all of us to protect our kids who can’t get vaccinated, to keep our neighbors from being the newest patients in the ICU, to make sure no family has to plan a funeral that never needed to happen. We all want these tragic times to be over, and to see the pandemic behind us—and the fact is that vaccinations are our pathway there.”