Appeared in the Bangor Daily News October 15, 2023
I have grave concerns about Maine children that are currently being kept from public school due to their vaccination status. Over the course of the last five years and three legislative sessions, I witnessed hundreds of parents testifying that their children would be barred from school if LD 798 passed. They were right. It went into effect in September 2021.
I submitted a bill seeking an opinion from the attorney general about the constitutionality of removing the religious exemption. It failed. I put forward another, LD 51, pointing out the illegality of removing a religious exemption, a constitutional right. It also failed.
Recently in Mississippi, religious exemptions were restored. Closer to home, we should watch Fox v. Makin, the U.S. District Court case currently underway here in Maine. The defendant is Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin, appointed by Gov. Janet Mills.
This is the third year these children are being denied a public education and they are falling further behind. This battle is not over. Both those bills, LD 798 and LD 51, would have also covered the health care workers that lost their jobs during the latter part of the pandemic. Lest we not forget them, too.
Rep. Gary Drinkwater