Public Health Committee Postpones Debate On One Controversial Bill, Moves Forward With Another

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The legislature’s Public Health Committee tabled one controversial issue and raised another during one of its first meetings of the session. 

“When we get to the controversy I don’t want anyone to say we didn’t follow a good process,” Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport) said. 

Steinberg co-chairs the Public Health Committee and believes the committee can tackle controversial issues such as removing the religious exemption to childhood vaccines and aid-in-dying while also tackling COVID legislation. 

Opponents of the vaccine bill who protested at the swearing in ceremony two weeks ago asked the committee to postpone debate until they can come and testify in -person. 

After lengthy debate Steinberg agreed to table the discussion until next week. 

Some lawmakers who oppose the ideas feel they shouldn’t be raised for debate in the middle of a global pandemic. 

“Is it appropriate to have this kind of bill be raised during a pandemic when peoples viewpoint of whether they can participate in the democracy we have and be able to come and have their grievances be heard and look at their legislature in the eye, is that possible?”

For Republican Senator Heather Somers the answer is no. 

“There is something very different about being in the Legislative Office Building when you have people around you trying to bend your ear or talk to you in person versus being at home or wherever you have internet service at the moment, it’s a very different dynamic,” Somers said. 

But some lawmakers felt it was a debate worth having even if it has to be virtual. 

“This is raising concepts. If we don’t like them we should vote them down,” Rep. Peter Tercyak (D-New Britain) said. 

“I don’t know how we decide which bills are going to be too controversial or too unreasonable ideas that they don’t make it onto the list,” Tercyak said.

The issues are not new. 

“People have been anticipating and waiting for and that addresses real challenges and needs in our community and there's just no reason to postpone them,” Sen. Mary Abrams (D-Meriden) said.

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