Opinion: California’s GOP is so desperate it’s going to bat for anti-vaccine uber liberals

Opponents of recently passed legislation to tighten the rules on giving exemptions for vaccinations demonstrate in the Assembly gallery after lawmakers approved the companion bill on Monday in Sacramento.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

The Democrats’ supermajority in the California Legislature has rendered the small contingent of GOP legislators all but powerless to make or stop new laws in California. That must be frustrating.

So instead of trying to legislate, Republican lawmakers have taken on the role of hecklers, like a Greek chorus issuing sharp critiques to their Democrat counterparts’ fumbles from the sidelines. It’s the same role that many Democrats have taken on in Washington, D.C., since 2016, needling President Trump at every turn.

An an editorial writer, I appreciate the counterpoint. Absolute power needs the kind of checks that the state’s Republicans can provide.

But it was dismaying to see state Senate Minority Leader Sen. Shannon Grove of Bakersfield and other Republican legislators side with the opponents on the bills to close a loophole that was allowing people to get around the state’s vaccination laws.

We’re not talking about whether or not to fund high-speed rail. This is about protecting people from the very real threat posed by diseases like measles, which is seeing its biggest comeback in two decades thanks in part to misguided fears about the safety of vaccinations. It is disheartening and dangerous to make it a partisan issue.


If this is a ploy to turn the so-called “anti-vaxxers” into GOP voters, they may not have great luck. Those opposed to mandatory vaccines don’t split along party lines. In fact, some of the places that have seen the lowest vaccination rates are solidly liberal communities, like Marin County and Santa Cruz.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bills Monday after pressuring the author for last-minute changes, despite the protests in and around the state Capitol. I hope this means we’ve seen the last of the uglier attacks on the author, Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento).