HARTFORD, Conn. — UPDATE 5:06:
The Amended Bill 5044 passed the Public Health Committee Monday evening. The bill, which would remove religious exemptions, will now move to the house to be voted on.
The vote was tallied as 14 to 11. It was a party-line vote except for two Democrats. Representative Jack Hennessey and Representative David Michel broke party lines and voted "No" on the bill.
Senate Republican leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) released a statement saying that Democrats ignored over 20 hours of public testimony.
Read the full statement below:
"The Democrat leadership of the Public Health Committee ignored over 20 hours of public testimony and the voices of over 5,000 citizens to rush a bill without giving the advocates the courtesy of reviewing last second changes. Instead of listening to those voices, in just over one business day and without any further discussion the Democrat leaders of the Public Health Committee rushed to vote on this bill. To make matters worse, they adopted a last-minute amendment without giving anyone in the public the ability to review the language. When we still have a month left to continue committee work on the legislation why rush? If there's going to be an amendment, why not allow for transparency and discussion of that proposal? Why force this through today? I have grave concerns when we ask people to show up and share their perspective and leaders simply ignore them. This is the people’s house, and they have spoken loud and clear. The process today disrespects those voices."
Read the full bill and tally below:
A woman was arrested Monday and charged with interfering with the General Assembly.
Rita Palmer, 56, of Bluepoint, New York was charged with disorderly conduct and interfering with the General Assembly. She was released and is scheduled to appear on March 10.
The Public Health Committee is expected to vote on a bill that would repeal the "religious exemption, allowing unvaccinated children to attend public schools in the state.
A public hearing on the bill drew out a large number of protestors last week, and 400 people testified before the committee. That hearing lasted nearly 24 hours.
Members of the medical and science community urged members of the General Assembly to "not be swayed" by the large numbers of advocates who turned out, many with young children in tow.
The vast majority of medical professionals the recent fall in vaccination rates presents a risk to children who, for medical reasons, cannot be vaccinated against diseases such as measles, and rely on 'herd immunity' to protect them.
But, local parents say the bill violates their right to raise and care for their children as they see fit.
Informed Choice CT held a rally that included citizens as well as lawmakers, calling on legislators to abandon the initiative to repeal the religious exemption. Advocates said the bill aims at removing religious and educational rights and "kick thousands of children out of school".
The Public Health Committee will meet beginning at 10:30 a.m. in room 1D of the LOB in Hartford.