Virginia Government Special Session Could Impact Vaccines Legislation
A Special Session of the Virginia General Assembly, called by Governor Northam, convened Tuesday, August 18. The purpose of this session is to address virtual and in-person educational changes, budget adjustments related to COVID-19, and criminal justice reforms. Within these parameters, we have found legislation that could impact your homeschool family.
The 2020 Special Session is unusual. Legislators are meeting off site at Virginia Commonwealth University and the Science Museum of Virginia with live streaming and electronic transfer of information—no paper bills. Members of the public are not allowed to observe the legislative proceedings in person or speak with their legislators one-on-one. This includes lobbyists. The only way to communicate with your elected officials is by email or a phone call to their home office.
This is why I’m contacting you. It’s important that you make your views known.
HEAV’s legislative team has been at work reading bills as they are published. We are watching for those that may impact your homeschool in a positive or negative way. During our bill search, we found legislation related to vaccines that may be of interest to you. See the details below.
Delegate Mark L. Cole (R-Fredericksburg) has introduced HB 5016, a bill that will provide an exemption to those who are opposed to vaccinations for religious reasons. The present law, § 32.1-48. Powers of Commissioner in Epidemic, gives the Commissioner of Health the authority to “require immediate immunization of all persons in case of an epidemic of any disease in which a vaccine exists.” There is a good possibility this will include COVID vaccines that are now in development. During an epidemic, the current law provides only an exemption from a doctor.
Delegate Cole’s proposal will add an exemption based on religious beliefs. It adds an exemption that says, “…or a person who objects to administration of such vaccination on religious grounds.”
HEAV has always—and will continue to—support the rights of parents to make decisions concerning their children. HEAV does not take a position on vaccines; we are not pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine. However, HEAV does believe it is parents who should make vaccine decisions for their family, not the government. Although the primary focus of our organization is on home education, we also have a responsibility to inform parents about law changes that could undermine and weaken OR strengthen and protect parental rights. It is up to all individuals to respond in a way that is consistent with their beliefs.
If you have a position regarding parental rights and vaccinations, make your views known AS A PARENT, not a homeschooler, by calling or emailing your state legislators. Because they will be in session for only a few weeks, contact them immediately!
Although you can call your delegate and senator at their district offices, an email may be the quickest and most effective method of communication at the present time. Be sure to include the bill number, HB 5016, and a short statement about why you support or oppose this legislation.
Director of Homeschool Support and Government Affairs
Not sure who to contact?
Find out who represents you in the Virginia legislature (district phone numbers included).
PS–I’ll keep you updated on the progress of this and other legislative activity that may affect your homeschool.