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California lawmaker denied proxy vote brings newborn to Assembly floor

“Please, please, please pass this bill," she said, holding her infant in her arms. “And I'm going to go finish feeding my daughter."
/ Source: TODAY

California Assemblymember Buffy Wicks made headlines after she wasn’t allowed to vote by proxy amid the COVID-19 pandemic…so she brought her 1-month-old baby with her to the statehouse.

Wicks, who used to work for President Barack Obama, posted a photo of her holding baby Elly before debating legislation on Monday.

“Yep, I’m here! (And so is Elly)” she tweeted.

An expectant assemblymember, Monique Limón, also posed in a photo with Wicks and baby Elly.

"Mommy & soon-to-be mommy came to Sacramento today to do the people’s work!" Wicks tweeted.

A spokesperson for Wicks told Politico that her request was denied “on the grounds that maternity leave is not eligible for proxy voting.” Proxy voting, which is when a lawmaker votes on behalf of someone else who can’t be there, has to be approved by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and eligible members “shall be at a higher risk from the COVID-19 virus,” according to the rules passed on the topic earlier this summer.

Wicks returned to Sacramento to support a housing bill that would make it easier to create multi-unit housing in the tough California housing market.

“Please, please, please pass this bill," she said, holding her infant in her arms. “And I'm going to go finish feeding my daughter."

A spokesperson for the speaker told Politico recently giving birth did not constitute a high risk for COVID-19.

“The house resolution pertaining to proxy voting is very specific, in that only members at a higher risk from Covid-19 will be considered eligible for proxy voting,” the spokesperson told the outlet. “This bar of eligibility was always intended to be high, to ensure the protection of our legislative process.”

In the end, the Associated Press reported no one in the state Assembly voted by proxy, while several state senators were forced to vote remotely after being exposed to COVID-19. Voting remotely via videoconferencing hasn’t been tested legally, and the AP reported several legislators expect it to prompt a lawsuit in the coming weeks.

Rendon and Wicks’ teams did not respond to TODAY’s request for comment.

Cases of babies getting coronavirus have been fairly isolated, though there have been a few fatalities that made headlines — including one 9-month-old in Chicago who died in March.

The symptoms for young children are similar to those that adults experience, experts told TODAY.

“Cough, respiratory distress — breathing fast, having difficulty catching your breath — fever,” Dr. Patricia Whitley-Williams, chief of pediatric infectious disease at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, New Jersey, said in April.