Senate Bill 20-163 is elitist, discriminatory legislation that should be vetoed by Governor Polis. The Democratic Majority had promised that only bills that were “free, fast, and friendly” would be voted on in the last days of the abbreviated session. SB163 met none of those criteria. And even though many other bills were postponed, SB163 was rammed through.
The process of how SB163 got passed is an affront to democracy. Contrary to claims made by the bill sponsors, there was no stakeholder engagement for SB163. Black Community leaders were (once again) ignored. And the state’s educational institutions from day care to Universities, were never notified. After 15 hours of testimony during the Senate hearing in February, two Democratic Senators were planning to vote “No” and kill the bill in committee that night. Then, sometime after midnight, Senate President Leroy Garcia showed up, held a closed door meeting, and strong-armed them to vote “yes”. After the hearing, all one of the Senators could say in defense of changing her vote was, “We were under a lot of pressure”.
After the COVID recess Susan Lontine, Chair of the House Committee, held the House Hearing on a Sunday. Pastors and members of the faith community were prepared to testify but were unable to do so. And in spite of 2000 people showing up to voice their opposition, testimony was limited to only 1 ½ hours for each side.
SB163 was amended to include a Homeschool Exemption which allows families who homeschool to avoid the forms, re-education, data tracking, and vaccine requirements mandated by SB163. This amendment is appreciated and is a small step in the right direction. However, the bill now provides for different laws for different classes of citizens. If a family can afford the loss of income associated with the rigors of homeschooling, they get one set of laws. However, for those who cannot afford to homeschool because they rely on two incomes or are a single mother working two jobs, a different, more restrictive law must be obeyed. Homeschool families are typically middle-to-upper class and predominately white. This is discriminatory and on these grounds alone, the bill should be vetoed.
Since the bill passed, hundreds of parents – representing thousands of Colorado children – have publicly announced that they will not comply with SB163. Rather than subject their children to coercion, data tracking, and potential bullying, they intend to pull their children out of public schools. Each child leaving the public education system represents approximately $10,000 of lost funding. This will create a financial crisis for Colorado schools. Even homeschool families will be taking their children out of public school enrichment programs.
Black families who do not homeschool should be particularly concerned about SB 163. The CDC destroyed evidence that black boys are 3.36 times more likely to develop autism if they receive the MMR vaccine before age 3. CDC senior vaccine safety scientist, Dr. William Thompson, testified that his supervisors ordered the destruction of data showing that black children were suffering disproportionate harm by the MMR vaccine. He stated, “I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article … The omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism.” An estimated 156,000 African American children might have been spared debilitating neurological injury if only the CDC had told the truth
Studies show that African Americans have a stronger immune response which also increases risk of vaccine injuries. Dr. Gregory Poland at the Mayo Clinic states that “African Americans have much higher antibody responses to this viral vaccine, rubella, than we have seen in any other population.” The dose given to African Americans is two times stronger than it needs to be. In 2017, a study by Scandinavian scientists found that the DTP vaccine, while protecting African children from Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis, was wreaking havoc with their immune systems. Vaccinated children were dying at up to 10 times the rate of unvaccinated children. A 2010 study in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health showed that black boys were at significantly greater risk of regressing into autism after receiving the thimerosal-containing Hepatitis B vaccination series as infants.
School personnel are overwhelmed with new protocols for student health and safety. Now is not the time to give them yet another new system to navigate. And, as our whole country now (finally) seems willing to engage in a meaningful conversation about race and equity, now is certainly not the time to make laws which are blatantly discriminatory.
Governor Polis’ refusal to veto SB163 would be an embarrassing and troubling admission that Democrats really do not care about public school funding, Black lives, or social equity. SB163 must be vetoed.