By Carolyn Martin (CHEC Director of Government Relations)
Confusing Rule Changes Demand a Response
With God’s help, the School Entry Immunization (SB20-163) bill, which was passed in June 2020, was amended to keep most homeschoolers out of the new immunization system under the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). After a bill is passed into law, the executive branch is tasked with enforcing that law. Frequently, this means that the administrative power makes rules to inform government departments and agencies how to follow the law. In November of 2020, the Colorado Board of Health (BOH) passed updated rules to align with the bill.
CDPHE is now amending only those rules specifically dealing with homeschooling vaccine records. The draft rules came out in October and I immediately acted to convey my concerns and request changes that would align with the law. At the October BOH meeting, a rulemaking hearing was set for December 15th. The email from the CDPHE announcing the rulemaking hearing included a revised version of the proposed rules reflecting one change I requested from the draft. Yet, problems remain and I am still concerned.
The main concern is that the proposed rules could be misconstrued to give school district superintendents the authority to ask for CDPHE official immunization records from homeschool families. (See (D)(1)(a) of the proposed rules 6 CCR 1009-2 below.) The current law is clear that they are only entitled to a student’s immunization records or a statement of exemption from the parent if the superintendent has probable cause to believe a home education program is not in compliance with the law.
CHEC & HSLDA have worked together since October to ensure the rules accurately reflect the law. Most recently, we had a conversation with several CDPHE policy directors. We expressed our concerns and we were told they will take them under advisement. Rulemaking is a public process and we believe it is essential that we engage in the process when necessary. Now is that time!
Email the BOH at firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 PM on December 9th. In your own words, let them know your concerns about the proposed rules and express your support for CHEC & HSLDA’s proposed changes to the rules. (See CHEC & HSLDA’s action alert for more information.)
NOTE: We will know next week if they incorporated our suggestions in the proposed rules the BOH will vote on. Further action may be needed. Watch for an additional email alert (from CHEC) next week.
For more information:
- Current law: CRS 25-4-902 (1.5) and (6)
- Proposed Rules: original draft, revised draft rules from the meeting announcement email.
- Timeline of Vaccine Law History
Trusting in the mighty power and grace of Jesus,
Carolyn Martin, CHEC Director of Government Relations