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Updated: Vaccination education bill passes House 42-19

Updated March 24 – The House voted 42-19 Monday to pass House Bill 14-1288, the immunization measure that has touched a few nerves at the Capitol and among the public.

A small band of opponents gave it their best during preliminary debate on Friday, but the House gave easy preliminary approval to the measure, setting the stage for Monday’s final vote.

The House passed the measure on a voice vote following a 40-minute debate, during which one opponent complained the bill was telling parents “you’re too stupid to make this decision on your own.” A final roll-call vote will be taken later.

The bill would require parents who want to opt children out of immunizations for reasons of “personal belief” to obtain a note from a doctor or medical professional certifying they have been briefed on the benefits and risks of vaccinations. Or, parents could complete a state online training about those risks and benefits.

State law requires certain vaccinations for all children entering licensed daycare facilities and all schools, public and private. But the law also allows parents to opt out for religious, medical or personal belief reasons. To use the latter option parents need only sign a slip saying they’re opting out.

HB 14-1288 wouldn’t change the law on religious or medical opt outs but would require the educational component for parents who use personal belief.

Sponsor Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, said the bill is aimed at parents who think that “it’s easier and more convenient to sign the form rather than provide immunization records” and who don’t actually have strong personal beliefs about the safety of immunizations.

“I stand firmly for parent rights on this issue,” said Rep. Steve Humphrey, R-Windsor. He added, “I’m not confident that [education] is the ultimate goal.” (Some witnesses at a recent committee hearing said they fear the bill is just a step toward later elimination of the personal belief exemption.)

Rep. Lori Saine, R-Firestone, argued, “Parents have done their research” and the bill isn’t needed.

Minority Leader Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, took that idea a step further with the “too stupid” comment.

Opponents tried various amendments, all of which failed. The only successful amendment makes it clear that the bill wouldn’t apply to children who are fully home-schooled or enrolled in a full-time online program.

No debate on this one

The House Friday voted 59-3 to pass House Bill 14-1291, which would allow charter schools to hire armed security guards. (Districts already have that power.) The bipartisan measure is a kind of a “consolation prize” for another guns-in-schools bill that was killed earlier. (Get the background in this story.)

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