Last updated 6/22/20:
In literally the last hours of the 2020 legislative session, the immunization bill that CHEC has been fighting since February (SB20-163 School Entry Immunization — see below for full history) was amended to exclude homeschoolers from the burdensome new requirements for obtaining immunization exemptions. Click here to read CHEC’s analysis of the full impact of SB20-163.
For more information on this exciting development, including additional legal guidance, read this post by HSLDA.
This is a major victory for homeschool freedom in Colorado and we give God the glory and praise for turning the hearts of our legislators in our favor! God continues to preserve homeschooling as an island of freedom!
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8)
We want to thank all of you who testified at hearings, made phone calls, and sent emails to legislators related to this bill. You made your presence felt at the Capitol and it made a difference!
We are so grateful for Mike Donnelly and HSLDA for championing our cause throughout this fight. Mike’s legal advice and effort on our behalf throughout the battle was invaluable, and his role in crafting the homeschool exemption amendment language was key to this victory. The CHEC/HSLDA coalition combined the legal expertise, boots-on-the-ground lobbying effort, and grassroots connections that were vital in this significant “win” for homeschool freedom. We strongly encourage ALL homeschool families to support what HSLDA does on behalf of Colorado homeschool freedom by becoming a member today!
There is a small yet courageous band of pro-homeschooling Colorado legislators at the Capitol who were instrumental in getting the homeschool exemption amendment pushed through. CHEC is deeply grateful to each one of them, and we would encourage you to send them notes of thanks and encouragement for their valiant efforts on our behalf.
- Senator Paul Lundeen (firstname.lastname@example.org) who worked to get an amendment in the Senate and finally got it done on the conference committee.
- Representative Dave Williams (email@example.com) for working on the homeschool amendment in the House, fighting on the floor, and serving on the conference committee.
- Representative Lori Saine (firstname.lastname@example.org), a homeschool mom, thank her for bringing the homeschool amendment in the House during the floor debate and for trying to get it brought up again before the vote in the House.
- Representatives Mark Baisley (email@example.com), Tim Geitner (firstname.lastname@example.org), Patrick Neville (email@example.com), and Kim Ransom (firstname.lastname@example.org) for their tireless work on our behalf.
During the last few days of the fight, I had the privilege of standing by Carolyn Martin (CHEC Homeschool Legislative Liaison) at the Capitol, and I got another glimpse of the amazing work that she does year-round as she fights for homeschool freedom, parental rights, and religious liberty. Her skill at understanding, navigating, and guiding legislators and the legislative process make her an invaluable asset to CHEC and the homeschoolers of Colorado. But the things that impress me the most about Carolyn are her commitment to prayer and her strong faith in the sovereignty of God and His control over all that happens at the Capitol, even when things appear to be very dark. If you’d like to join me in expressing gratitude to Carolyn, you can send a note to the CHEC office by regular mail or to her email at email@example.com.
Although we celebrate a major victory today with the homeschool exemption, CHEC continues to oppose SB20-163 because we believe that it imposes unreasonable burdens on the rights of parents to make appropriate medical decisions for their children without government interference. The bill is headed to the governor’s desk for signature and we encourage you to email him to let him know that you believe this is still a very bad law and ask him to veto it! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We know that many legislative battles are still ahead, and CHEC needs your prayers and financial support to continue the fight for homeschool freedom! Please consider donating to CHEC’s Homeschool Freedom Fund today to help us keep homeschool freedom strong in Colorado.
More Information & History of SB20-163
CHEC and the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) oppose Senate Bill 20-163 School Entry Immunization for violating parental rights. In short, SB 20-163 would:
- new requirements make it harder to obtain immunization exemptions (does not apply to homeschooling families — see below)
- enable a state database to track individuals who delay or do not vaccinate (immunization and now exemption data will be put into the database by your doctor; make sure you tell your doctor you want to opt-out and go here for more information)
- threaten religious liberty by renaming the conscience exemptions (personal and religious belief) to “nonmedical exemptions”
- give more control over immunization exemptions to a state department (the CDPHE) that has had a history of being unfriendly to immunization exemptions
In literally the last hours of the session, the immunization bill (SB20-163 School Entry Immunization) was been AMENDED SUCCESSFULLY to exclude:
- Families who home educate following the home-based education law (& submit an NOI), and
- Families who home educate following the non-public school law (under the umbrella of an independent, parochial, or private school).
These families will NOT be required to meet the new requirements but rather keep a record of a statement that the child is exempt from immunization. (Families who participate in a public school must follow the new requirements.)
- HSLDA’s background of the final bill and legal guidance
- Full proposed bill, SB20-163 (look for the version of the bill dated 6/13/20)
- CHEC’s guide for engaging with the legislative process
Please note: Although CHEC neither encourages nor discourages parents from immunizing their children, we oppose all attempts by the state to interfere with parents deciding what is best for their children, especially when the state seeks to require burdensome paperwork or create databases to track its citizens.
Progression of SB 20-163
- 2/11/20: SB20-163 School Entry Immunization was introduced in the Senate.
- 2/19/20: The hearing in the Senate Health & Human Services committee began around 10am and went until Thursday, February 20th around 1:30am. Although all the committee members were concerned about many aspects of the bill, it passed through the committee on a party-line vote of 3-2. CHEC continued working with Senators to amend the bill to clearly exclude homeschoolers.
- 2/25/20: The bill was heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee; this committee only looks at the fiscal note and determines if it is something they want to fund. No testimony was taken. It passed on a party-line vote.
- 2/28/20: Debated on the Senate floor and passed with amendments on third reading with a vote of 20 to 14 (with 1 excused). Senator Priola was the only Republican Senator voting for this bill.
- 3/14/20: The SB20-163 School Entry Immunization bill was scheduled to be heard in the House Health and Insurance Committee on Wednesday, March 18th upon adjournment. However, due to Governor Polis’ declaration of a health emergency for the state of Colorado, the legislature made the decision to recess the Colorado general assembly. All bills, including SB20-163, that have not completed the process through the legislature were put on hold until they returned on May 26th.
- 6/7/20: During COVID-19 restrictions in the Capitol and protestors on the grounds, the House Health & Insurance Committee held a hearing on a Sunday. Testimony was severely limited. No amendments were made to fix the homeschool problem. The bill passed on a party-line vote of 7 to 4.
- 6/8/20: The House revives HB20-1297 Immunization Status & Child Abuse Neglect hoping to use it as a vehicle to exclude homeschoolers from the newly required immunization record requirements laid out in SB20-163.
- 6/9/20: The House amended the bill to include a petition clause.
- 6/10/20: The bill passed the House and moved to the Senate.
- 6/11/20: CHEC & HSLDA put out a call to ask the Senate to bring HB20-1297 to committee and amend it. Within hours, the bill was assigned to committee and scheduled to be heard the next day.
- 6/12/20: An amendment was attempted for HB20-1297, which would have excluded homeschoolers from SB20-163. HB20-1297 (a good bill) was passed successfully by the Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee but did not include the amendment for homeschoolers.
- 6/13/20: The Senate rejected the House amendment to SB20-163 and called for a conference committee to reconcile their differences. The conference committee unanimously amended the bill to exclude homeschoolers. The newly amended bill passed both the House and Senate. The bill is now on its way to the governor for his signature before it becomes law.