Immunization opt-in bill, guns-in-schools bill dead for session

(UPDATED, 3:31 p.m., with comments from Reps. Priscilla Giddings and Chad Christensen.)

Two hot-button education-related bills are dead for the 2019 session.

The Senate will not take up a bill to require schools and child-care centers to provide immunization opt-out information to parents, at the same time they receive information on state immunization guidelines.

Meanwhile, the House will not act on a bill to allow enhanced concealed weapons license holders to carry firearms to schools.

Sen. Fred Martin, R-Boise

The immunization proposal, House Bill 133, passed the House on Feb. 25. Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Fred Martin says he will not hold a hearing on the proposal.

Martin, R-Boise, said he has only heard from a couple of people about the bill. But he said he is willing to take any heat that comes from his decision.

“We need to send the message in Idaho to immunize,” Martin said Wednesday morning.

Idaho’s immunization rate dropped slightly this year, and the state has one of the highest immunization opt-out rates in the nation. Over the past two years, immunization opt-out numbers have increased by nearly 25 percent, far outstripping enrollment growth.

Meanwhile, the guns-in-school bill will not come back to the House State Affairs Committee for a hearing.

A divided State Affairs Committee voted to print House Bill 203 after an uncommonly long introductory hearing on Feb. 26. However, bills seldom come out of a committee without a more extensive public hearing, and HB 203 will not get a hearing, committee Chairman Steven Harris said Wednesday morning.

The proposal needs more discussion, and more input from stakeholders, said Harris, R-Meridian.

A ‘reprehensible situation’

Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird

Rep. Priscilla Giddings, HB 133’s sponsor, called Martin’s decision “reprehensible.”

“If a bill proposed by a representative of the people passes through one legislative chamber but is then held and essentially ‘vetoed’ by one man, a Senate committee chairman, the effect has huge ripple effects on the destruction of our republic,” Giddings, R-White Bird, said in an email Wednesday. “HB 133 would increase government transparency; therefore it is very ironic that the bill is not being allowed a public hearing.”

HB 203’s sponsor, Rep. Chad Christensen, told Heath Druzin of Boise State Public Radio that he is still working on the issue, but he didn’t go into specifics.

“The chairman has cancelled the hearing,” Christensen, R-Ammon, told Druzin. “However there are some things in the works.”



Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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