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Lundberg letter: May 2016

May 3, 2016

  1. Immunization Exemption Forms
  2. Senate Bill 150–What it is, What it is Not


  1. State Health Department Makes Laws Without the Legislature

House Bill 1164, a bill that would have required parents to register immunization exemptions for their children online was killed on second reading in the House on April 25.

This bill was a bad idea for many reasons. To read more, click here.

One might breathe a sigh of relief that the legislature listened to the people who were concerned about this bill and killed what was an over-reach of data collection, and a violation of parental authority. However, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) has already implemented the policies that were laid out in the bill. They now have policies, but no statutory authority to back up those policies.

The CDPHE, as HB 1164 would have directed, set up an online registration system for all parents seeking exemptions from the immunization requirements. Current law only requires “a statement of exemption signed by one parent or guardian…” to be submitted to the student’s school. The online registration system, which they were originally going to require everyone to fill out and submit online (now they say you can download a blank “official, nonmedical exemption form”) is a much greater magnitude of data collection and government oversight than submitting a written and signed statement of exemption to the student’s school.

I asked Dr. Larry Wolk, the Executive Director of CDPHE to come to explain how their policies conform to current Colorado law. He is scheduled to meet with the Senate Health and Human Services Committee (of which I am the Chairman) tomorrow morning, May 4th, upon adjournment of the morning session of the Senate. I expect adjournment to be sometime between 10:00-11:30.

I invite everyone interested to come and attend this important hearing. It will be held in room 271, in the Capitol (the big room between the elevators on the second floor).

This should be a significant meeting where we hope to find the answer to one simple question: is CDPHE going to follow the law, or make it up?

  1. Senate Bill 150

Certain media reports on Senate Bill 150 have produced more questions than answers.

Here is what Senate bill 150 is: It is a clean-up bill. As the Legislature, we are tasked with making the laws we pass work for the people of Colorado.  After the  passage of Civil Unions a few years ago, followed by the Obergefell decision by the US Supreme Court, some people obtained both a civil union and a marriage license. Some now wish to dissolve those contracts, and have found it difficult because the two licenses must be dissolved separately. SB 150 merges the two licenses into one.

Here is what Senate Bill 150 is not: It is not an affirmation of the Obergefell decision nor is it a validation in Colorado law of same-sex marriage.

Senate Bill 150 was heavily amended to not explicitly establish same-sex marriage in Colorado Statutes.  Without the addition of these amendments, I, and the majority of my colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle would never have voted yes on this bill. Additionally, we added a legislative declaration which reads:

“The general assembly finds a legal conflict between the Colorado constitution and the manner in which the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. (2015), has altered the issuance of marriage licenses in Colorado.

The people, through a citizen’s initiative, established in the Colorado constitution a specific definition of marriage where that legal relationship is exclusively reserved for a relationship between one man and one woman. However, in the five to four Obergefell decision, the United States Supreme Court nullified a similar constitutional definition of marriage in Ohio for James Obergefell and other petitioners.

As a consequence of the Obergefell decision, Colorado county clerks and recorders began issuing marriage licenses to couples who also held civil union licenses. Now couples who hold both civil union and marriage licenses face a more complicated legal process if they wish to dissolve their legal relationships.

Senate Bill 16-150 is intended to remedy the complicated legal process of dissolving a civil union and a marriage for the same couple. The ultimate constitutional question of the United States Supreme Court’s constitutional jurisdiction and authority to redefine marriage in Colorado’s constitution through a ruling on certain individual cases in other states is a matter the general assembly may take up at a different time, but Senate Bill 16-150 does not address, nor settle that concern.”

This legislative declaration is intended to clearly establish that the Colorado Constitution is not automatically destroyed by court precedent. The United States Supreme Court’s constitutional jurisdiction has specific limits, and even as the US Congress can limit the court’s jurisdiction (Article III, section 2) the states have constitutional jurisdiction in matters outside of the enumerated powers of Congress (Amendment IX and Amendment X).

SB 150 does not settle the conflict between Obergefell and the Colorado Constitution, but it does clearly state that the Legislature should deal with this dilemma at some later date.

For Life and Liberty!

Kevin Lundberg

Colorado State Senator for District 15

Assistant Majority Leader


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