MADISON, Wisc., (CBS)– A Republican state lawmaker is aiming to block a bill designed to increase vaccination rates in Wisconsin.
The legislation was proposed as a protective health measure as health officials confirm more than 700 measles cases across the country this year.
Republican representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt says the government shouldn’t be forcing vaccines upon families.
He’s a key lawmaker in this debate because he chairs the state’s education committee.
It’s unclear whether a proposal that would toughen the state’s vaccine opt out laws will come through his committee. but if it does, he told me its odds of passing are quote “not very strong.”
As the number of measles cases continues to climb across the country, public health Madison Fane County is asking people to check their immunization records in hopes that no cases come to Wisconsin.
Under Wisconsin state law, parents can request three types of waivers to opt their kids out of vaccines.
Medical reasons, religious reasons, and the personal conviction waiver, meaning they don’t have to provide a reason.
Representative Gordon Hintz introduced a bipartisan bill to get rid of that waiver.
“Look we’re going to get an increase in the number of kids vaccinated one of two ways — 37 we’re either going to pass this bill 38 or we’re going to have a measles outbreak 40,” Hintz said.
He says the government has an obligation to protect the public’s health, but representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt is questioning the role of government in the vaccine debate.
Thiesfeldt says he and his children are all vaccinated, and encourages other families to do so. Hintz also introduced the bill back in 2016 and it has broad support from a number of medical groups.
The bill hasn’t been scheduled for a public hearing yet, something assembly speaker Robin Vos has the authority to do.
He was not immediately available for comment on whether it will go to Thiesfeldt’s committee.