Louisiana remains stuck on stupid concerning required vaccinations of school attendees because Republicans can’t get it together in the state Senate.
This week, the Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee rejected HCR 3 by Republican state Rep. Larry Bagley. The bill would have overturned the decision last year by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Department of Health, ratified by Edwards himself, to add Wuhan coronavirus vaccination to its schedule for both elementary and secondary education and higher education.
Much data has accumulated demonstrating the relatively high risk attached to vaccination of children compared to the benefits. As vaccination doesn’t stop the spread of the virus, there’s no reason to impose such a requirement, as to do so interferes with the autonomy of the family to make health care decisions for its children while being forced into certain conduct, school attendance, by the state. Next school year, Louisiana will be the only state in the country requiring this vaccination.
Although statute allows parents to opt out, this default position takes advantage of parents who don’t know about this option, and nothing forces local education agencies to notify parents about this. Bagley and others argued before the committee that widespread lack of knowledge by parents of this option potentially forced them to go against their better judgment, or perhaps to disengage from public schooling, which would be solved by repealing the administrative rule.
Republican members of the committee expressed approval of the resolution, while Democrats reacted the opposite. The latter group seemed to believe that the opt-out procedure was adequate to protect family interests.
Basically ignored was the requirement also extended to higher education students, without an opt-out avenue, even as the state’s institutions are abandoning their draconian testing protocols. Their requirements that students (and employees) either demonstrate proof of vaccination or of recent virus contraction to attend physically were internally imposed, but the regulation will kick in to make that vaccination only for the fall semester. This in turn will discourage some students from attending and force others without means to abandon higher education plans, for no good reason.
But the measure failed 4-3, because the committee was short one member, GOP state Sen. Rogers Pope. Republican Chairman state Sen. Fred Mills didn’t vote because it would not have changed the outcome, which occurred on a party-line vote. Likely it would have passed easily on the Senate floor.
It’s questionable wherever Pope was that he couldn’t attend a meeting with such a consequential and high-profile item on the agenda was as important. But the larger question beyond his absence was why the committee only has a 5-4 GOP majority at full strength.
Republicans outnumber Democrats better than 2-1 in the Senate. That would argue for a 6-3 split in the GOP’s favor on that panel. With that, the majority could weather even a pair of absences and still theoretically impose its preferences.
That oversight is on GOP Sen. Pres. Page Cortez. He makes committee selections and ultimately left no margin for error for this one. That mistake now will cost families and students.