What if you want to oppose a bad bill? Where do you start?
Maybe you’ve never taken political action in your life. But even if you’ve never phoned a lawmaker, can’t remember that Schoolhouse Rock cartoon on how a bill becomes a law that you watched as a kid, and feel like politics are for other people, if you live in Oregon, you need to know how to oppose a bad bill.
Let me tell you about HB 3063.
What is HB 3063?
HB 3063 is a bill that is being fast-tracked through the Oregon legislature. It seeks to bar Oregon children from public school, private school, daycare, early intervention, Head Start, and all group activities if they’re missing just one vaccine. The idea behind the bill is to force compliance to every vaccine on the current state vaccination schedule by eliminating philosophical and religious vaccine exemptions.
This bill abolishes medical freedom and parental choice.
Oregon has one of the strictest set of requirements in the country for children to get medical exemptions.
If you’re looking to oppose a bad bill, look no further
Every medical exemption given by a doctor is reviewed by the Oregon Health Authority. OHA makes the ultimate determination of a medical exemption. They decide if it will be “disallowed,” “permanent,” or “temporary.”
What this means is that many children who cannot be safely vaccinated will not qualify for exemptions.
HB 3063 has been written in a sloppy, confusing, and discriminatory way.
Deeply unpopular with Oregonians
Although doctors, lawyers, educators, and Oregon parents of all stars and stripes testified against it on February 28, 2019, it passed out of the House Committee on Health Care on Thursday, March 14, 2019. The bill that passed this committee included the following amendment:
“(b) A child described in this subsection may not attend in person any school-related activities, events or meetings in which the child will share the same physical space as other individuals.”
Four representatives, all Republicans, on the committee voted against it on March 14. In general Republican lawmakers tend to understand the importance of medical freedom more than lawmakers from other political parties.
As of Friday, March 22, HB 3063 has been referred to the Joint Ways and Means Committee and those committee members are reviewing it for financial impact.
If it passes out of Ways and Means, it must then be voted on by the entire Oregon House of Representatives and then by the entire Oregon Senate.
The buck stops with the governor
If it passes the two houses, Democratic Governor Kate Brown must sign it. Despite the widespread opposition to the bill, Governor Brown has very unfortunately indicated that she will sign it.
She is a good governor in so many ways. But she is not educated on this issue. If she were adequately educated and willing to listen, I have no doubt she would oppose the bill as well.
If HB 3063 becomes the law in Oregon and your child is not vaccinated for hepatitis B (which is not an infectious disease), your otherwise fully vaccinated child will not only be denied an education in Oregon, she will not be able to participate in sports, art classes, or any activity where the child will share the same physical space as other individuals.
I believe the bill’s sponsors have good intentions.
They want what every Oregonian wants: good health for Oregon’s children.
However, this bill is wrong on so many levels.
Why should you oppose a bad bill like HB 3063?
✅ Coerced medicine is not the way to advance public health.
✅ Abolishing medical freedom is not the way to advance public health.
✅ Discriminating against children because of the choices of their parents is not the way to advance public health.
✅ Excluding healthy children from school because you disagree with their parents’ medical choices is not the way to advance public health.
✅ We should educate parents as much as possible to make informed decisions about vaccines and explain to them why vaccines are necessary and effective, but ultimately the choice of whether or not to vaccinate lies with parents themselves.
✅ The state should not be making medical choices for our families.
As Pam Marsh, a Democrat in the Oregon House of Representatives who has said she opposes HB 3063, explained to a constituent:
I also believe in vaccines and herd immunity. However, I think we create unintended consequences if we pass a mandate that forces the decision on a parent. I don’t believe pushing children out of the public-school system is the right way to tackle concerns about contagious diseases and vulnerable children. I have heard from public health officials who privately oppose a mandate for the same reasons.
This bill is, ultimately, not about vaccines. It’s about a family’s freedom to make health care decisions for themselves.
Our country was founded on the idea of religious and civil freedom
HB 3063 is un-Oregonian and anti-American.
I’m disappointed to see Democratic lawmakers voicing support for or staying silent about this bill.
It’s a bipartisan issue with one bottom line:
The people of Oregon do not want our children’s medical decisions made by state legislators.
If you oppose discrimination, you’re against HB 3063.
If you care about this issue, it’s time to act.
It’s time to write and call state lawmakers and tell them you oppose HB 3063 and why.
It’s time to go to Salem and meet with your senator and representative.
When you call, you will likely speak to an aide.
That aide may be surly or may be chatty.
Always be polite and thank them for their time.
As awkward as you feel, make that phone call. They track how many phone calls they get. Even if they are hostile to you on the phone, they’re paying attention.
Your voice matters.
Your words matter too.
Here’s a tip sheet for writing to the Oregon lawmakers, adapted from OFMF and used with permission.
How to oppose a bad bill: Write to your legislators
• Address them by “Senator” or “Representative” and their last name.
• Introduce yourself in the first line with your name and establish your credibility: “I am an educator in Springfield.” “I work for the Catholic Church.” “I am a medical doctor with a thriving pediatric practice.” Also be sure to identify yourself as a constituent (if you are) or as a representative of an organization or an affiliation (if you have one).
• Be polite. Use appropriate and respectful capitalization and punctuation. Check spelling and grammar.
• Be clear and concise. Try to keep your letter as close to 250—300 words as possible, while including enough information about why you are writing to them. Shorter letters gain more traction. Longer letters often aren’t read.
• Explain your position clearly and why you are contacting them. Give enough information for the legislator to understand your position.
• Be specific with your request. Tell the legislator you are asking them to oppose HB 3063.
• Remember that this is not a partisan bill, regardless of your legislator’s party affiliation. This is an issue that impacts all Oregonians.
• Request a response. Ask what his/her position on the issue is or how s/he will vote on the bill.
• Offer yourself as a resource if they would like additional information.
• Remember any and all correspondence with staff and legislators at a state or government issued email address is part of the public record. This is not a private or confidential correspondence.
• Include your contact information. Don’t be surprised if they do contact you. Our legislators work for us. A good legislator responds to constituents!
• Conclude the letter politely with “Sincerely” or “Thank you for your time.”
Ready? Set? Go!
The most important thing is to write and call and meet with YOUR senator and representative. Oregonians for Medical Freedom is also asking people to contact the Joint Ways and Means Committee:
Joint Ways and Means Committee needs to know you oppose a bad bill:
Co-Chair Senator Betsy Johnson
Co-Chair Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward
Co-Chair Representative Dan Rayfield
Co-Vice Chair Senator Jackie Winters
Co-Vice Chair Representative David Gomberg
Co-Vice Chair Representative Greg Smith
Senator Lee Beyer
Senator Lew Frederick
Senator Fred Girod
Senator Bill Hansell
Senator Dallas Heard
Senator James Manning Jr.
Senator Arnie Roblan
Senator Chuck Thomsen
Senator Rob Wagner
Representative Paul Holvey
Representative Susan McLain
Representative Mike McLane
Representative Rob Nosse
Representative Carla Piluso
Representative Duane Stark
Speaker of the House
Representative Tina Kotek
Senator Peter Courtney
Governor Kate Brown
Editor’s note: An earlier and very different version of this post was about SB-442, a bill that was introduced in Oregon in 2015 to abolish medical freedom. That bill was killed in committee and one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Dr. Alan Bates, withdrew his support for it after hearing from and listening to his constituents. Lawmakers listen. Let’s talk to them! And Oregon legislators introduced yet another school exclusion bill, SB 254, in 2021.