Ex-California lawmaker Tim Donnelly pushes for referendum on new vaccination law

Tim Donnelly

Tim Donnelly leaves the polling place at Lake Arrowhead Country Club after casting his vote in June 2014 during his unsuccessful bid for governor. On Wednesday, Donnelly filed a proposed referendum to place California’s new vaccination law before voters.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Former Assemblyman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly wants California voters to overturn the strict new childhood vaccination requirements signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday.

Donnelly, of Twin Peaks near Lake Arrowhead, filed paperwork with the state attorney general’s office Wednesday for a statewide referendum on the vaccination law.

Donnelly hosts “The Tim Donnelly Show” on KIXW-AM (960) in the Inland Empire and has railed against the vaccination law as a violation of religious liberty and infringement of parental rights.

“With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Brown took away a really important choice for parents to make. I just believe that decision belongs to the parents, not the government,’’ Donnelly said Wednesday. “This is not about vaccination. This is about choice.’’


Donnelly, who is also a gun rights advocate, ran unsuccessfully against Brown and Republican Neel Kashkari in the 2014 governor’s race primary.

The new vaccination law was spawned by an outbreak of measles at Disneyland that ultimately infected more than 150 people. It requires children enrolling in school or day care to be immunized against diseases including measles and whooping cough.

Effective July 1, 2016, parents will no longer be able to cite personal or religious beliefs to decline the inoculations, although children with certain medical problems, such as immune system deficiencies, will be exempt.

Filing a proposed statewide referendum with the attorney general is the first step in the process of placing a measure on the ballot.


A $200 fee, which Donnelly has submitted, is required. The attorney general then creates an official title and summary of the referendum. Supporters have 180 days to collect signatures from at least 365,880 registered voters for the 2016 ballot, according to the California secretary of state’s office.

Donnelly’s proposed referendum was first reported by the Sacramento Bee.

The vaccination bill was one of the most contentious in the Legislature this year, attracting large, vocal crowds of protesters. Opponents of the measure have threatened to take legal action to block the new requirements.

Donnelly said that opposition spreads across political, racial and economic lines, and he expects a wellspring of support for the referendum campaign.

After Brown signed the legislation, actor Jim Carrey sent out a tweet calling the governor a “corporate fascist” who was poisoning children by adopting the new law.

“California Gov says yes to poisoning more children with mercury and aluminum in manditory vaccines,” Carrey said. “This corporate fascist must be stopped.”

Carrey said he does not oppose vaccines but believes they should be free of chemicals and compounds such as mercury and thimerosal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2001, vaccines routinely recommended for children have contained no thimerosal or only trace amounts, with the exception of a few flu vaccines.


Los Angeles Times staff writer Veronica Rocha contributed to this report.

Twitter: @philwillon

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