It would ban chemicals, GMOs, smart meters, reverse vaccine law, end water treatment.
By Paige Austin, Patch Staff | LOS ANGELES, CA — California voters could once again tackle the controversial topic of mandatory vaccinations for school-aged children.
Last week the California secretary of state authorized signature-gathering for an expansive initiative that would reverse the state’s mandatory vaccination law and ban genetically modified foods as well as more than 300 substances from being used in the environment.
The “California Clean Environment Initiative” would also prohibit treatment of water with fluoride or chlorine and create the California Clean Environment Authority to regulate environmental activities and test and approve substances before they can be introduced in California. The measure would also make it a possible felony to expose the environment or other people to toxic chemicals punishable by prison time and fines.
“We are trying to restore people’s ability to fight for themselves and decide what they should do,” said the initiative’s proponent Cheriel Jensen. “These companies that make the chemicals have taken our right to refuse those chemicals away.”
Jensen said she was inspired to write the initiative after she became sickened by pesticides at the county government building where she worked. She believes chemicals used in foods, vaccines and in the environment are to blame for prevalence of cancer, autism and a host of other diseases.
Though California boasts some of the strictest environmental regulations, voters in the Golden State have shown little appetite for similar measures restricting genetically modified foods and banning widely used chemicals. In 2012, voters rejected Prop. 37, which, far from banning modified foods, merely required labels on food made from genetically modified materials. In 2016, Jensen’s previous version of the the “California Clean Environment Initiative” never got beyond the signature-gathering stage.
But in 2016, California’s mandatory vaccination law went into place, effectively limiting most vaccine exemptions for school-aged children. The controversial law riled up vaccination opponents, who vowed to fight the law.
The law, one of the strictest in the country, requires students at public and private schools in California to be vaccinated for 10 common childhood diseases unless there is a medical reason they cannot receive the vaccination. Inspired by a measles outbreak in California that started at Disneyland, the bill triggered heated debate and passionate testimony on both sides.
If Jensen’s initiative were to become law, it would result in a substantial net change in state and local finances, according to an analysis made by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance.
Valid signatures from 365,880 registered voters — 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2014 general election — must be submitted by Aug. 6 to qualify the measure for the November ballot, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced Wednesday.