A bill that would have required all California workers to prove they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 was withdrawn from the state legislature just before its first committee hearing, one of the bill’s authors said Tuesday.
Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, said the authors of Assembly Bill 1993 decided to withdraw it from consideration in light of the state’s sharp decline in COVID cases over the last two months.
The bill would have required all employees and contractors working in the state to prove that they were vaccinated against the virus or demonstrate a valid exemption by Jan. 1, 2023.
Wicks introduced the bill last month with Assembly members Evan Low, D-San Jose, Akilah Weber, D-San Diego, and Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, as co-authors.
“We are now in a new and welcome chapter in this pandemic, with the virus receding for the moment,” Wicks said in a statement Tuesday. “This provides for us the opportunity to work more collaboratively with labor and employers to address concerns raised by the bill.”
Wicks said the bill was also withdrawn due to opposition from law enforcement and public safety unions, and expressed hope that they would continue working with state officials to ensure the state’s police and fire department employees get vaccinated.
State employees, teachers and health care workers are already required under state health guidance to prove their vaccination status or provide a valid religious or medical exemption.
Wicks, Law, Weber and Aguiar-Curry are all members of the legislature’s COVID-19 vaccine work group, along with Sens. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, Dr. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, and Josh Newman, D-Fullerton.
The legislators formed the work group in January in an effort to work with medical experts to determine the best ways to encourage state residents to get vaccinated against COVID and combat misinformation about the safety and efficacy of the available COVID vaccines.
“Vaccines, and vaccine requirements, remain a critical tool for moving from pandemic to endemic,” Wicks said. “That work is still needed, and it could still ensure that millions more Californians become vaccinated.”
As of Wednesday, 74.5 percent of state residents age 5 and up have completed their initial vaccination series. Another 9.4 percent have received at least one dose.