PUBLIC HEARING: FEBRUARY 19

The Public Health Committee has raised a bill, HB-5044, which aims to remove the religious exemption completely for all public and private K-12 schools, child care, institutions of higher education and child group care homes in Connecticut. It gives children/students who previously used the religious exemption until the start of the 2020 school year, or Sept 1, 2020 for child care, to get the initial dose of any missed, age-appropriate vaccines and to create a catch-up schedule for any additional required doses. It also would require children/students who are medically exempt from one or more of the vaccines on CT’s vaccination schedule to submit a new certificate, to be created by the Department of Public Health.

The public hearing on February 19, is your opportunity to tell Connecticut legislators that you do not consent to the removal of the religious exemption. It starts at 10:30am in Room 2E of the Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Ave Hartford, CT.

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THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO TESTIFY:

  • Your written testimony should include why you oppose HB-5044, including any reasons that are specific to your situation. It can be a few sentences or more in depth depending on what you would like to share with legislators.
  • Email written testimony to phtestimony@cga.ct.gov and CC your local legislators (find them here) by 2:00pm on Tuesday, February 18, 2020.
  • All testimony must be attached to the email in Word or PDF format with "OPPOSE HB-5044" as your subject line.
  • You will receive an automated reply from phtestimony@cga.ct.gov as your confirmation.
  • If you do not wish to have your testimony made available on the CGA website, reply to the confirmation email.
  • It is not recommended to put your full address or phone number on your testimony. If you agree to have your testimony published online, it will be indexed by internet search engines.
  • First name, last initial and town are acceptable if you need or want to protect your privacy
  • Each person who signs up to testify in person will have 3 minutes to speak about why they do not want the removal of the religious exemption.
  • Practice what you will say with a timer. You will be cut-off at the end of your time to allow other people their time to give testimony.
  • Prepare what content you might remove if the committee only allows 2 minutes for testimony.
  • Your oral testimony does not have to be the same as your written testimony.
  • If you did not submit your written testimony online 2:00pm on Tuesday, February 18, 2020, you must submit one printed copy no later than 8:30am on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 to the clerk in Room 3000 of the LOB.
  • Testimony sign up begins at 8am in the First Floor Atrium of the LOB. This is directly ahead of you when you go through LOB security.
  • It can be difficult to find parking in the morning, especially free parking, so please plan to arrive early in case you need to spend time finding somewhere to park. (See parking info).
  • More information on how to testify is available here: Your Voice Matters at the Connecticut General Assembly.
 

Please plan to be at the Capitol on February 19 whether you are going to testify in person or not. We need to show them how many people are in this fight.

Parking

We are expecting thousands.

  • Consider using a rideshare into Hartford.
  • Parking Garages outside of the city:
    • Crossroads Plaza and Blue Back Square, West Hartford
  • Parking can be found by clicking on this link Parking in Hartford.
  • Street parking – don’t forget to pay the meter
    • Capitol Avenue, Trinity Street, Elm Street, Trumbull Street
  • Parking Lots
    • Jewell StreetArtspace Hartford – 70 spaces, 9 minute walk
    • West Street Lot – 155 spaces, 11 minute walk
    • Hilton Lot – 292 spaces, 12 minute walk
    • Goodwin Square Garage – 319 spaces, 12 minute walk
    • Spruce Street Lot – 210 spaces, 13 minute walk
Preparation

Plan to stay in Hartford all day. Pack a bag of essentials including water, snacks, extra layers and activities for your children. Bring a portable charger for your phone. Leave extra room in your backpack for your coat.

What to Wear to Testify

We recommend dressing in professional business attire. Pull out the power suit. If you don’t have a suit, other options are dress slacks, blazers, button down shirts, sweaters and dress shoes. We suggest buttons or stickers. We will have “I DO NOT CONSENT” pins available with a $5 donation.

How to Carry and Conduct Yourself

We are all in this fight together. We are defending our constitutional rights, our children’s rights and the rights of our fellow citizens. We highly recommend leaving emotions at the door. This is an emotional fight for ALL of us. However, emotions will detract from our mission. Stand strong and be confident. Be prepared for tears to flow and have a strategy in place. Center yourself. Focus on your goal. Our message will be most effective if delivered calmly, with facts and in an authoritative manner.

Talking to Legislators

Please refrain from voicing your anger and frustrations to legislators. It will not help our overall cause.

Law Enforcement

Please be kind to State and Capitol Police. They have always been gracious to our community because we show them respect. We ask anyone considering attending this day to PLEASE help our community maintain that relationship. Please convey you are grateful to them for what they do. Please refrain from recording, talking or Facetiming on your phone when you are going through security or engaging with officers.

Preparing Children for the State Capitol

This is a great opportunity to educate your children about what happens during our legislative session here in Connecticut. Let them know that they will be a part of history.

To ensure the day runs smoothly, please take extra measures to prepare your children. Read age appropriate books about the State Capitol and how laws are made. Instruct them on the State Capitol rules – speak in an inside voice, do not run, and do not climb. The more we can prepare them the better we can set them up for success.

If your children have sensory issues, we recommend bringing headphones. It will be noisy.

Please bring snacks and games to keep your children occupied during down time.

Below are some book recommendations. Check your local library for more.

  • The Tuttle Twins Learn About The Law by Connor Boyak
  • We the Kids: The preamble to the Constitution of the United States by David Catrow
  • Know My Rights: A Children’s Guide to the Bill of Rights and Individual Liberty by Rory Margraf
  • The Everything American Government Book: From The Constitution to Present-Day Elections, All You Need To Understand Our Democratic System by Nick Ragone
  • How A Bill Becomes a Law in CT
Media
HOW TO IDENTIFY MEDIA

Media will be wearing a press badge around their neck, carrying a video camera, regular camera and/or a notepad and pen.

WHAT TO SAY TO THE MEDIA

If you plan to speak to the media, please be prepared by reviewing our tip sheet. If you are interviewed by the media, stick to brief, factual statements that cannot be edited. Whenever possible, have someone you know record the interview. Their microphones are always recording - you are NEVER off the record.

MESSAGING

Our messaging is critical. We will not tolerate censorship or coercion any longer.

We encourage homemade signs with messaging such as:

  • Parents Call The Shots
  • My Child, My Choice
  • Coercion is Not Consent
  • Educate. Don’t Discriminate.
  • If It’s Mandated, Are We Free?
  • Education Not Segregation
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