Colorado Democrats to move forward with vaccine bill

When Colorado Rep. Kyle Mullica returned to the Capitol to resume this year’s legislative session, officers approached him about a 911 call they received.

Someone had called to report him, saying he should be quarantined after treating patients with COVID-19 at the Cook County Jail in Chicago.

“Nothing came from it because nothing should come from it,” the Democrat from Northglenn said.

But the incident shows just how contentious — and personal — Colorado’s fight over a vaccine bill has gotten.

Mullica is one of the sponsors Senate Bill 163, aimed at increasing Colorado’s vaccination rates — the lowest in the nation — by making it harder for people to claim non-medical exemptions. The bill was making its way through the legislature — and had passed through the Senate — before the session was suspended due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

When lawmakers returned with a goal of finishing their work as quickly as possible, it wasn’t clear whether the bill with vocal opposition would still get a vote. This week, leadership agreed to add the bill to the calendar, and it’s scheduled to be heard Sunday at noon by the Health and Insurance Committee.

The Colorado Health Choice Alliance, a group of parents opposed to restrictions on vaccine exemptions, emailed supporters after Mullica’s return, writing, “Why did Representative Mullica return directly home before quarantining himself in Chicago? Could he have exposed others to this disease on his travels home? Is it safe for him to return to the legislature on Tuesday, less than a week after returning home?”

But Mullica said he won’t be bullied from moving forward with a bill that is good for the community and is backed by science as well as a majority of Coloradans.

“It’s disappointing,” he said. “I think we should be better than that and debate the merits of the bill.”

Supporters and opponents of the bill will get to do just that on Sunday. The committee is accepting written and in-person testimony, though social distancing guidelines will be implemented in the hearing room. Testimony may also be limited.

“PLEASE SHOW UP!! WE NEED THOUSANDS of people!!” the Colorado Health Choice Alliance posted to its Facebook page Wednesday.

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