Rowdy Crowd Gives Senator Pan an Earful at Town Hall on “Bill of Rights” for Kids, SB 18

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Senator Richard Pan held his first town hall meeting last week before a crowd of concerned and sometimes hostile parents worried about a controversial piece of legislation he introduced in December, SB 18, the California Children and Youth Bill of Rights. Many parents came to the meeting thinking this bill would give government officials the right to overrule the education and healthcare decisions they make for their children.

Based on the way the the bill is currently written, these parents are not alone in their fears. Even the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times wrote the bill was “troubling”, “overly ambitious,” and “disturbing to contemplate.” The Times went on to say the bill’s “words signal potential trouble both to individual-rights advocates and to people concerned about the realities of budgets that must meet the needs of many.”

Jim Steyer stands and speaks at town hall.

Jim Steyer stands to explain his support for SB 18 and commends Senator Pan, seated to the right, for introducing the bill.

But Pan and the bill’s official sponsor Jim Steyer, a politically powerful child-welfare activist, both tried to reassure parents that their intent was simply to insure the state makes children one of their top spending priorities. Explaining his reasoning for the vague and broad language of the bill, Pan explained he did this initially in order to meet bill introduction deadlines, but he promised bill details will be added before SB 18 is reviewed by its first policy committee. Pan and Steyer said those additional details will be based on suggestions gathered from parents throughout the state.

Both Pan and Steyer referred to a report put together by Steyer’s organization, Common Sense Kids Action, which details the problems facing the state’s children. According to the report, California has the second worst standard of living for kids in the nation. One in four don’t have enough food to eat every day, seventy-five percent don’t receive important health screenings, and one million kids under the age of five don’t have access to licensed child care. In the minds of Pan and Steyer, the state could solve child poverty if they could just get state government to spend more money on children.

“We believe in the Children’s Bill of Rights for a simple reason,” Steyer told the crowd of parents. “California, the golden state, the capital of which we are sitting in, is the sixth largest economy in the world, but we also have the 47th out of 50th standard of living for children…. Something is not right in that picture.”

“It is absolutely inexcusable that there are any children born here in Sacramento who don’t have quality health care, early childhood education, a quality public education… or the kind of services that the four Steyer children have had,” Steyer said. “It is up to us to change that…. You have to do that through legislation.”

Steyer and Pan believe they can get a larger portion of the state budget dedicated to pay for child-centered programs if they pass a law establishing a bill of rights specifically for kids. But it was the very use of the word “rights” in association with vague and broad concepts like “emotional well-being” or “parents… who act in their best interest,” that worried many of those attending the town hall meeting.

One of those parents was business owner Matthew Recore. “The way it is written, it looks like control is going to be turned over to the government, and choice is going to be taken away from the parent,” he told the panel. Recore wanted to know how Pan was going to define “appropriate healthcare,” one of the rights guaranteed in SB 18, and he wanted to know what the penalty was going to be “for not following what you or anyone else decides what is appropriate?”

Another homeschooling mom who doesn’t vaccinate her children and gave birth to them at home, wanted to know if SB 18 was going to infringe on the choices she made for her children.

Pan repeatedly assured parents the bill will not violate parental rights already established by law, but the bill simply lists what the state government should aspire to provide children. “The purpose of this bill is not to go and say that there is only one way to parent your child,” said Pan. “We aren’t looking to mandate going to preschool… . The purpose of the bill is not to punish people… [, but to]support children and their families and that includes their parents.”

Yet when asked if this new bill of rights would give minors the right to sue their parents for violating one of these new rights, the answer lacked certainty. Assembly Kevin McCarty, a Sacramento legislator on Pan’s panel, initially avoided answering the question, but talked instead about the need to spend less money on prisons and more money on schools. When pressed, however, he said, “I don’t believe so.”

Pan did not give a definitive answer on the right to sue question either, but responded saying, “The point of the bill is not to increase lawsuits… . The bill has been generally supported by organizations that want to reduce lawsuits.”

A large contingent of the town hall crowd didn’t trust Pan to protect parental rights because of SB 277, a bill Pan authored and the Governor signed over a year ago, which mandates vaccines for all children attending public school. This bill removed a waiver that existed for parents who didn’t want their children vaccinated for religious or personal reasons. SB 18 is seen by this group of parents as another attempt by Pan to overrule the health care choices parents make for their children.

There was also a smaller contingent of SB 18 supporters who asked Pan to include funding in the bill for child care, protections for LGBT+ students, and more stringent family leave requirements for businesses. Executive Director Kathy Fleming of Fairy Tale Town, a park in Sacramento, asked Pan to add the “right to play,” to the bill of rights. That suggestion was met with lots of enthusiasm from Pan and his panelists, who sighted studies showing how play was good for the social and cognitive development of children.

Other parents asked how all these new programs were going to be paid for knowing the state is already struggling to fund repairs for the state’s crumbling transportation and water infrastructure, as well as other programs already providing help for children. Pan had no answer for this question other than to say he’s exploring various options and he believes SB 18 is needed to insure  “children are a top priority” in the state budget.

Before SB 18 can move forward and be assigned to a policy committee within the Senate, the bill must be amended with specific code language detailing what the bill will actually do. That will have to happen within the next month or so if the bill is to move forward.

Now is the time to contact your Senators and let them know your concerns about SB 18. If you don’t know who your California Senator is, you can find his or her contact information here:


(20) Comments

  1. He does this EVERY time, says this every time, then passes the bill while narrowing the noise around parental rights and informed consent. Pam is an egregious, self profiteering maniac as well as a perilous, fraud.

  2. Senator Pan is bought, corrupt and a coward. He received more than $95,000 from Pharma during the 2013-2014 legislative session. He also accepted donations from Merck in the 2010 election cycle, in which the pharmaceutical industry was buying politicians and strategically placing them in positions that would guarantee the passing of their vaccine mandates. Pan literally runs from those who try to have honest conversations about his legislation (see #PanRan). He is the sole cause of hundreds (maybe thousands) of families packing up and leaving their home state because their children are no longer able to attend public schools due to SB277. He doesn’t care about kids, he cares about quotas.

  3. I don’t trust anything Richard Pan or Jim Steyer try to promote. They do not respect the individual rights of California’s citizens – most natably parents. with children.

  4. Pan and Steyer are BIG government advocates who believe the state knows better what is good for your children. They will not stop until the state is given full authority over what your children eat, medications are state mandated, what propaganda they are fed in school, and the state decides what medical attention your children are subjected to — all WITHOUT parental permission.

  5. Sorry. Anything Richard Pan is involved with cannot be trusted. He is a liar and he’s a pawn for big pharma, and that has been proven over and over again. Ask anyone who saw this poor excuse for a politician in action in 2015 over SB277, the bill that mandates vaccines for children or they cannot attend school. SB18 is nothing more than a blueprint for future mandates from the state that will erode parental rights. Welcome to Moscow, USofA.

  6. Wasn’t that what Hitler did in Germany? Made All Children “Wards of the State “. Those of us that are in our late 70’s & older remember seeing newsreel of thousands put on trains & taken to be “trained “.!!

  7. Pan cannot be trusted. He is a slick weasel who uses a friendly smile and a calm demeanor to push laws parents don’t ask for and don’t want, but he gets big money to push. The last thing CA needs is MORE LAWS! The last thing parents need is the state getting involved in their day-to-day. You want kids lives to get better? Make housing more affordable, increase real jobs, and start encouraging families to stay together rather than divorcing.

  8. I’m wondering if anyone at that meeting pushed Pan to provide copies of the report showing those stats and how and where they were taken. My bet is they came from SoCal with its millions of illegals.

  9. “It is absolutely inexcusable that there are any children born here in Sacramento who don’t have quality health care, early childhood education, a quality public education… or the kind of services that the four Steyer children have had,” Steyer said. “It is up to us to change that…. You have to do that through legislation.”
    If it’s inexcusable, then why did Senator Pan already take those rights away with SB 277?

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  11. I don’t trust Pan when it comes to vaccinating our children. He’ll say anything; this reminds me of the saying by a previous president, “if you like your doctor, you can keep him or her.” What a joke. He’s all about the money.

  12. “California has the second worst standard of living for kids in the nation. One in four don’t have enough food to eat every day, seventy-five percent don’t receive important health screenings, and one million kids under the age of five don’t have access to licensed child care. In the minds of Pan and Steyer, the state could solve child poverty if they could just get state government to spend more money on children.”

    How many elections over decades of time have we voted on more money for California kids? The democrats are great at spending our tax dollars and failing in all the programs they sponsor. And now another bill with more spending to go after our kids and our parental rights? NO!

  13. Senator Pan is a LIAR who passes these bills and then goes back on the promises he makes about them. Just look at sb277. His promise that doctors would be free to write medical exemptions with no interference from government lasted about a week before health departments from Santa Barbara to Sacramento began demanding schools turn over those medical exemptions for “review” in order to get doctors “in line” with the bill’s supposed guidelines. Then he overstepped even those guidelines.

    Right off the bat the most outspoken doctors came under investigation and are now fighting for their licenses. Pan’s been buddying up with heads of health departments all over California. God knows what he’s promised these people for compliance. Just look at Charity Dean, head of Santa Barbara H. D. who was the first to fall in line. Her fb page came down in a hurry after she gushed something about how politics was “so much fun!” with pictures of her hugging Pan. Yeah, a real blast, injuring and killing kids one bill at a time. These people are disgusting in their fervor to further their careers and deepen their pocketbooks on the backs of innocent children and they have no conscience at all, only blood on their hands.

    Autism rates have already risen almost 20% in the 8 months since sb277 was rammed down our throats. By the end of the year how many more kids dead or injured? Arrrg! Sickening pretenders to be advocates for child welfare. More like carnivorous wolves with jaws dripping. Salivating over how much more money they have the potential to make on you and your children. They don’t really want your children. They want your compliance and it’s wholly about vaccines and so much more that we have the potential to lose. I can think of a million reasons they might suggest for the reason they need to take your child away…. and after all… their reasons are all “researched based”! What can go wrong with that?

    Contact your legislators and tell them we will not stand for this!

  14. Do not believe this conniving greedy Pan. They just pulled this in Idaho under SB1182 which did not pass thank God. There is a movement to take away parental rights in this country. They disguise these bills as “children’s rights” or helping starving children., beware of wolves in sheeps clothing. Steyer can give to food banks and churches if he wants to help children.

  15. Vaccines cause Autism and alot of other problems in children. Do the research, the CDC has lied….Dr. Pan is an idiot pediatrician bought off by Big Pharma who does not know anything about what is happening… Please vote him out of office.
    SB18 is a downright disgrace…

  16. I work at the airport and on Sunday guess who drove though my toll booth? Pan. I wanted to say something so bad to him but I knew he was the type to get me fired, so I bit my tongue.

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