Vaccine bill draws GOP fire

DENVER — Even though it’s little more than a study now, a measure initially aimed at boosting immunizations in Colorado still managed to garner much opposition from the GOP side of the aisle in the statehouse.

Republicans in the Colorado Senate still don’t like it, in part, because they believed HB1288 as originally introduced went too far in telling parents how to take care of their children.

Under the original measure, parents had more hurdles to opt their children out of getting immunizations. It would have required them to get a note from their doctors, but still force them to get information about why they should immunize their children.

“The way I see this bill before it was amended, it was the re-education bill,” said Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud. “That’s what it was there for, to force parents into a training program.”

Lundberg and other Republicans said they have no problem with parents getting all the facts about the goods and ills of immunizations. But the measure, they said, was slanted toward the former.

As it stands now, the bill calls on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the State Board of Health to study the issue, including the positive and negative impacts of specific immunizations, how many people opt out of them, and whether there is a correlation between those dropouts and the rate of disease outbreaks.

The measure won preliminary approval in the Senate on Tuesday, and will face a final vote as early as today before heading back to the House to see if lawmakers there accept the changes.

In other action Tuesday, the Senate also gave a preliminary nod to a bill designed to help encourage more agritourism on farms and ranches in the state.

HB1280, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, extends liability protections for farmers and ranchers who open their establishments to tourists.

Other measures that won preliminary approval in the Senate include:

■ HB1260: A bill designed to bring a “Jessica’s Law” to Colorado by imposing stricter sentences on child sexual offenders.

■ SB184: A measure to expand hemp farming in the state.

■ HB1354: A proposal that allows county clerks to challenge elections decisions handed down by the Secretary of State’s Office in Denver District Court.

All those measures require a final Senate vote.


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