Well, that didn’t take long.

Former California Assemblyman and ex-gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly Wednesday filed paperwork with the Office of the Attorney General for a referendum that would overturn California’s brand-new law ending personal belief exemptions for vaccines. Donnelly filed the request just one day after Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB277 into law.

Donnelly, a tea party conservative who hosts an Inland Empire talk radio show on KIXW-AM, posted his displeasure with the new law on Facebook Tuesday.

“Gov. Jerry Brown signed away a parent’s right to choose what’s best for their child,” he wrote. “This is a victory for leftists bent on absolute control. No more choice, no informed consent, only compliance or else!”

Backers of the law’s repeal now have 90 days from its enactment Tuesday to gather 365,880 signatures, the number needed to qualify the referendum for the Nov. 1, 2016, ballot. Provided enough signatures are verified, the law would then be put on hold until after the election.

That would mean parents could at least temporarily slide by the July 1, 2016, implementation of the law, when any child entering preschool, kindergarten or seventh grade, or any student changing schools, is required to have the proper vaccinations if they have not already obtained a personal belief exemption by Jan. 1.

“Even if they don’t have a chance of passing this, just getting it on the ballot box has a chance to throw a wrench in things,” says KQED politics and government reporter Marisa Lagos.

Lagos said the success of the signature drive will depend — what else? — on money.

“The question is whether they will have funding to send signature-gatherers out to do this work, enough boots on the ground to collect signatures,” she said.

Christina Hildebrand, founder of A Voice for Choice, a nonprofit group that worked against the vaccine bill, told KQED’s April Dembosky that collecting the required signatures was doable.

“We need 5 percent of what was cast in the governor’s election, which was a very low turnout vote, so I do believe we can get that,” she said.

And then there’s the Jim Carrey factor to consider.

State Sen. Richard Pan, a co-author of the law, responded to the referendum filing in a statement. “Californians overwhelmingly support requiring vaccinations for school,” Pan said. “Our bill was a reasonable, science-based approach to protecting children, and the most vulnerable among us, from dangerous diseases. Vaccines are one of the most powerful tools we have to prevent deadly communicable diseases.”

Pan said he would fight “any referendum that hurts Californians.”

A May poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 67 percent of Californians and 65 percent of public school parents think children should not be allowed to attend public school without getting vaccinated. Large majorities also said that childhood vaccines are generally safe.

If a referendum fails, opponents of the law could turn to the courts.

“The California state constitution guarantees a free and public education for every child,” said Hildebrand. Lawyers have been lining up to help with a lawsuit, she said. “They keep coming out of the woodwork.”

Not Over Yet: Tim Donnelly Files for Referendum to Overturn California’s New Vaccine Law 2 July,2015Jon Brooks

  • sactoresident

    Sen. Richard Pan: What possible risk does a five year old without HEP-B vaccinations pose or incur that rises to barring the child from public education? And since the measles outbreak was a Disneyland, why do you continue to allow unvaccinated, unscreened, foreign tourists to attend Disneyland?

    For the children the you deny an education, will you provide the equivalent funds back to parents so that they can seek other private sector education? Or will you keep those funds – same as you kept the $100k you received from drug companies?

    15 vaccines in a toddler is equivalent to 150 vaccines in an adult. Are you or any of your still willing to get 150 vaccinations to demonstrate their absolute safety?

  • Alisha

    Where there is risk, there must be choice!!! The government shouldn’t be allowed to decide what is injected into my child’s body. This choice belongs in the hands of the parents and their family doctor. I for one will support this referendum and do whatever I can to help the cause. This law, if it stands, will be used as precedent for further forced vaccinations & that’s not ok.

  • jamiebronson

    Time for the crazy science deniers to start posting.


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of EconomyBeat.org, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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