The Connecticut state Senate is expected to take up a bill today that would end the religious exemption for mandatory school vaccines next week.
The House approved the bill early yesterday morning after 16 hours of debate. A public hearing on the bill lasted 24 hours earlier in the session, with most speakers strongly opposed. Governor Ned Lamont says “We have learned over and over again over the last six months that vaccinations work, vaccinations keep me safe, keep you safe, keep my classrooms safe and prevent replications of other variants out there So it’s really important that all kids be vaccinated and I'm anxious to sign this into law”.
Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, , said “it’s reasonable to assume” many parents are using the state’s religious exemption because they’re concerned about vaccine safety. Vaccine hesitancy is becoming a direct and serious threat to the public health. It demands a proactive approach, not a reactive one. … We need to act and act before we have an epidemic”.
One parent Rachael Butova testified before lawmakers “I would never vaccinate my children. That is a hill I will die on. I will sue this state for violating our first amendment rights. If I lose I will move to a free state".
The first amendment protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. It prohibits any laws that establish a national religion, impede the free exercise of religion".
The bill allows anyone currently in kindergarten through the 12th grade who currently has claimed the exemption to keep it. Lawmakers for the bill say it prevents public health emergencies and the COVID situation is proof.