Under the Golden Dome: Exempting

Feb 22, 2019

A House subcommittee bill is discussed that would prohibit a person from running as a non-party political organization candidate if they lose a Democratic or Republican primary. Another bill with a similar goal would require candidates from any party to file their nominating papers with the secretary of state on the same date. Right now Democrats and Republicans file their nominating papers in March, non-party candidates do so in August. Both bills are eligible to move to a full committee.

All children attending a public school are required to be vaccinated according to a schedule from the Centers for Disease Control.  A parent can prevent their children from being vaccinated by filling out a one page form from the Iowa Department of Health, claiming they have a sincere religious belief that conflicts with immunization.  A person can also claim if the form is signed by a doctor or a nurse.

Two bills that would expand exemptions to immunizations are presented back to back during a crowded Senate Human Resources committee hearing. One would allow exemptions if a family says they have conscientiously held beliefs against having their child immunized, also known as a philosophical exemption.  

The second bill would prohibit discrimination or termination of a healthcare professional for not being fully immunized.  It also says a patient has to be treated even if they aren’t fully immunized. It also won’t allow insurance companies to deny insurance to people for reasons of not being fully immunized.

Proponents of these bills say they want to be able to choose which, if any, vaccinations they or their children recieve.  They also cite concerns about adverse effects vaccines may have.

Both bills do not pass out of the subcommittee. The chair Sen. Tom Green, R-Burlingson, is a retired pharmacist and says vaccines overall are the most significant positive public health issue in the last 150 years.

A Senate Local Government Subcommittee moves a bill forward that could determine what people don’t have to do based on their religion.  It’s known a Religious Freedom Restoration Act and several states have a version of such a law.

Sen. Dennis Guth, R-Kleeme, says it will prevent a citizen from violating their religious beliefs. Opponents say the bill would allow someone to deny anyone services based on their own religious beliefs, including those who have religious objections to an individual's sexualty or gender identity.