A Colorado bill that would have made vaccine exemptions a more difficult feat is now dead. The legislation, House Bill 1312, would have forced parents who want to exempt their children from vaccinations to fill out a form in person. As it stands, parents simply present a note to the school with the vaccine exemption request.
Democrats showed up and endured a four-hour hearing, only to have the vote delayed. The result is a dead bill not likely to go anywhere.
The state’s health experts responded defiantly to the results.
“We are very disappointed in the last-minute actions of the Senate and their unwillingness to addressing an urgent public health concern in our state,” Stephanie Wasserman, executive director of the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, said in a statement. “Legislators have put politics over the health and safety of our children.”
Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder blamed Republicans for holding up the bill.
“Republicans were not willing to let the vaccine bill come to a vote without hours and hours of debate, which would have prevented us from delivering on priority bills,” he said.
Another hurdle Democrats were forced to clear was Gov. Jared Polis’ objections to the bill.
Parental rights advocates are viewing the decision as a victory for medical rights over children. Many people object to mandatory vaccination laws because they feel it degrades the rights of parents. Colorado has been a political tinderbox over vaccine laws following reported cases of measles in the region.
The bill is likely to be modified and presented again in a year’s time.
“Between elements in my caucus and the governor’s office, it wasn’t meant to be this year,” Sen. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson said. “I’m going to bring it back next year. I believe it’s a good policy for the state of Colorado.”