Technically, regular California legislation takes effect on January 1, on the year following passage.
Here is the Secretary of State language and URL about it.
“A statute enacted during a regular session of the Legislature takes effect on January 1 of the following year, unless a later date is specified in the statute.”
Therefore, SB 276/714 does not “take effect” until January 1, 2020 (and I’ve revised a prior post which suggested or stated otherwise). However, I don’t think that’s the end of the story for several reasons.
First: some schools are citing the newly passed and signed law as a basis for rejecting exemptions which conform to the technical requirements of SB 277. That might be illegal, but it might require an injunction action to reverse the school’s action. In addition, some schools are forwarding these ME’s to the department of health and to the medical board to initiate a complaint, now supposedly under the new law. (Yes, some were doing it before the new law was passed and signed, but now they have additional support to do so, or so they think.)
Second: I think from a practical point of view, the new law is in effect in that it the passed and signed into law has consequences for physicians contemplating writing ME’s. Here is why:
SB 277 eliminated the PBE. The asserted trade-off was supposedly a more robust medical exemption. It is under this more robust ME that all of your ME’s were written. The SB 276 PR narrative was that a few bad apple docs were writing fake medical exemptions not consistent with the medical standard of care. The purpose of SB 276 was to shut down these fake ME’s by instituting a review process whereby all of these ME’s which were not consistent with the standard of care would be reviewed and revoked. At the last minute, the Governor demanded that the existing fake ME’s be grandfathered and not revoked. As a compromise, there was a grandfathering provision for ME’s written up until the new law technically came into effect on January 1, 2020.
So theoretically, physicians still have the ability to write ME’s under SB 277 for the rest of 2019.
Except that SB 276, its legislative history, and the PR campaign made it clear that the powers-that-be thought that vaccine concerned docs were abusing and misinterpreting SB 277 to write ME’s beyond the accepted medical standard of care, and SB 276/714 clarified that medical exemptions have to conform to that standard of care.
So, while it might be arguable that prior to SB 276/714 being signed into law, physicians had or could have had a reasonable belief that SB 277 gave them the power to write these broader than conventional standard of care exemptions, once the new law was signed, I am not seeing that argument. I think that as of September 9, 2019, physicians will be deemed to be on notice that their interpretation of SB 277 was incorrect and any subsequent ME’s had to conform to the standard of care. Still, I am guessing that for whatever reason, there may be docs who will continue to write these vaccine concerned exemptions. However, doing so will make it much harder for them in a licensing case, and I fear it will change the outcome of some of these cases.
So yes, technically, SB 276/714 will not “take effect” until January 1, 2020, but as a matter of fact, the law is being deemed to be in effect right now by some schools, and I think the new law will have a significant (and adverse) effect on physicians who continue to write vaccine concerned medical exemptions for the rest of 2019.
Rick Jaffe, Esq.