By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – A California bill that would have mandated all California businesses to require employees and independent contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19 has been put on hold, the bill’s author announced Tuesday.
“Our priority during this pandemic has been to make sure all Californians are as safe as possible by following the data and science around public health – which is why California continues to have some of the lowest COVID case rates, deaths and injuries per capita,” the bill’s author Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, said in a statement Tuesday. “We introduced AB 1993 because of the high volume of workers, employers and public health experts who expressed the need for vaccine requirements, yet felt unable to make these changes on their own.”
Ms. Wicks introduced Assembly Bill 1993 in February to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The bill would have mandated that, on January 1, 2023, employers would need to confirm that all employees and contractors are fully vaccinated or obtained an exemption. If businesses violated the requirement, they could face penalties of an “unspecified amount,” the bill stated.
Ms. Wicks said Tuesday that the state is now in a “new and welcome chapter in this pandemic,” adding that placing the bill on hold would provide more time to collaborate with labor officials and employers. She said putting the bill on pause will allow “space for these conversations to continue and progress.”
“While I’m disappointed in the opposition to this bill by public safety unions, it’s my hope that they will ultimately come to the table to make sure all of their workers are vaccinated, and that every job sector in California has the tools necessary to keep their workers safe from COVID-19,” Ms. Wicks said.
Ms. Wicks added that vaccines and vaccine mandates are still a “critical tool for moving from pandemic to endemic.”
Ms. Wicks’ bill was one of several laws that came out of a legislative Vaccine Work Group, which is composed of legislators crafting policy to combat the spread of COVID-19. Other bills introduced by the group include a proposal that would allow kids ages 12 and older to get the COVID-19 vaccine without parental consent and a bill to mandate the vaccine for all California schoolchildren.