NY Religious Exemption – The Final Stretch!

RFK Jr. speaks to 2000 people at Vaccine Rights Rally in Albany, NY

May 27, 2019 — Democratic Leadership in Albany, NY is trying to force a floor vote to repeal the religious exemption to vaccination before this legislative session ends on June 19th. They have the votes in the Senate, but the Assembly is unclear.

First, I am going to give a little analysis of where Albany is at right now regarding this bill, then at the bottom of this post will be specific *ACTION ITEMS* you can take to help us get out of this legislative session without losing the religious exemption to vaccination. At the very bottom of this post there is a sample letter you can use or modify to send to Albany legislators.

ANALYSIS — All of our efforts to educate the lawmakers have worked well; so well in fact the bill has gotten tied up in the Assembly Health Committee where it seems to have stalled on getting the needed 14 votes to move out of the committee to a general floor vote. Because of this stalling, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is being influenced by powerful forces in the Democratic Party to bypass the Health Committee entirely and get this bill to a general floor vote ASAP.

But does the Assembly have the votes? That’s unclear

It was funny to see Assemblyman Dinowitz – the sponsor of bill A2371 which would revoke the religious exemption – quoted in the press saying he was “optimistic” that his bill would have enough votes to pass the Assembly Health Committee. Barely two days later we learned that Heastie is planning on bypassing the Health Committee all together. So much for Dinowitz’s optimism!

He’s so optimistic, that Dinowitz and Senator Hoylman have called a press conference tomorrow in NYC where they are inviting children cancer victims to come shame parents who have a sincere religious belief against vaccinating their children. The gloves have come off! (There are so many reasons why this line of ‘logic’ is completely false, but I just don’t have the time to detail it here).

Here is what the marvelous Rita Palma posted on Facebook about where we are at:

May 26th — NYS POLITICAL FACT: When a bill goes to the floor for a vote, it WILL pass. Bills NEVER fail on the floor; success is set up beforehand. That matters because we are hearing that the REPEAL BILL MAY bypass the Health Committee (and another one) and go straight to the floor for a vote. There is NO more urgent time to visit, call, email, persuade, educate, implore and emote than THIS WEEK. If the repeal bill goes to the Assembly floor for a vote, it will pass and we already lost in the Senate. The vote is TIGHT- we are slightly ahead (according to Gottfried and we know this to be true). We can widen that margin- I know we can. If you don’t have the list of legislators that can be persuaded, then email me (ritapalma@mykidsmychoice.com)or go to the closed groups. Let’s make the most of this week so we can say we did all we could, no matter what happens. PLEASE SHARE THIS.

TAKE ACTION NOW — Here is the list of Assemblymen/women to focus on. If *YOUR*REP*IS LISTED HERE FOCUS ON THEM THE MOST! If not, try to contact them all or pick some in particular to focus on and call, visit, email, write them as much as you can! Forgive the poor formatting – it was the best I could do with quick turn around. It has the reps name, then local office phone number, then Albany number, then their email address.

Forgive the poor formatting – it was the best I could do with quick turn around. It has the reps name, then local office phone number, then Albany number, then their email address.

To get a more clear list that also includes Facebook & Twitter account info for all reps please email Rita Palma at ritapalma@mykidsmychoice.com

**Carmen E. Arroyo 718-292-2901 518-455-5402 ArroyoC@nyassembly.gov

Jeffrion Aubry 718-457-3615 518-455-4561 AubryJ@nyassembly.gov

Brian Barnwell 718-651-3185 518-455-4755 BarnwellB@nyassembly.gov

Didi Barrett 845-454-1703 518-455-5177 BarrettD@nyassembly.gov

Rodneyse Bichotte 718-940-0428 518-455-5385 BichotteR@nyassembly.gov

**Michael Blake 718-538-3829 518-455-5272 BlakeM@nyassembly.gov

**David Buchwald 914-244-4450 518-455-5397 BuchwaldD@nyassembly.gov

Kevin Cahill 845-338-9610 518-455-4436 CahillK@nyassembly.gov

Robert Carroll 718-788-7221 518-455-5377 CarrollR@nyassembly.gov

**Vivian Cook 718-322-3975 518-455-4203 CookV@nyassembly.gov

**Marcos Crespo 718-893-0202 518-455-5514 CrespoM@nyassembly.gov

**Catalina Cruz 718-458-5367 518-455-4567 CruzC@nyassembly.gov

Michael Cusick 718-370-1384 518-455-5526 CusickM@nyassembly.gov

**Maritza Davila 718-443-1205 518-455-5537 DavilaM@nyassembly.gov

**Carmen De La Rosa 212-544-2278 518-455-5807 delaRosac@nyassembly.gov

Michael DenDekker 718-457-0384 518-455-4545 DenDekkerM@nyassembly.gov

**Inez Dickens 212-866-5809 518-455-4793 DickensI@nyassembly.gov

Erik Dilan 718-386-4576 518-455-5821 DilanE@nyassembly.gov

Steve Englebright 631-751-3094 518-455-4804 EngleS@nyassembly.gov

Charles Fall 718-442-9932 518-455-4677 fallc@nyassembly.gov

**Nathalia Fernandez 718-409-0109 518-455-5844 fernandezn@nyassembly.gov

Mathylde Frontus 718-266-0267 518-455-4811 FrontusM@nyassembly.gov

David Gantt 585-454-3670 518-455-5606 GanttD@nyassembly.gov

Judy Griffin 516-561-8216 518-455-4656 griffinj@nyassembly.gov

Aileen Gunther 845-794-5807 518-455-5355 GuntheA@nyassembly.gov

Carl Heastie 718-654-6539 518-455-3791 Speaker@nyassembly.gov

**Pamela Hunter 315-449-9536 518-455-5383 HunterP@nyassembly.gov

Alicia Hyndman 718-723-5412 518-455-4451 hyndmana@nyassembly.gov

Kimberly Jean-Pierre 631-957-2087 518-455-5787 jeanpierrek@nyassembly.gov

Billy Jones 518-562-1986 518-455-5943 jonesb@nyassembly.gov

**Latoya Joyner 718-538-2000 518-455-5671 joynerl@nyassembly.gov

**Ron Kim 718-939-0195 518-455-5411 KimR@nyassembly.gov

Barbara Lifton 607-277-8030 518-455-5444 LiftonB@nyassembly.gov

Donna Lupardo 607-723-9047 518-455-5431 LupardoD@nyassembly.gov

Brian Manktelow 315-946-5166 518-455-5655 manktelowb@nyassembly.gov

Karen McMahon 716-634-1895 518-455-4618 mcmahonk@nyassembly.gov

**Michael Miller 718-805-0950 518-455-4621 MillerMG@nyassembly.gov

Yuh-Line Niou 212-312-1420 518-455-3640 niouy@nyassembly.gov

Felix Ortiz 718-492-6334 518-455-3821 OrtizF@nyassembly.gov

**Steven Otis 914-939-7028 518-455-4897 OtisS@nyassembly.gov

Amy Paulin 914-723-1115 518-455-5585 PaulinA@nyassembly.gov

Crystal Peoples-Stokes 716-897-9714 518-455-5005 PeopleC@nyassembly.gov

**Nick Perry 718-385-3336 518-455-4166 PerryN@nyassembly.gov

Stacey Pheffer Amato 718-945-9550 518-455-4292 amatos@nyassembly.gov

Victor Pichardo 718-933-6909 518-455-5511 PichardoV@nyassembly.gov

**Gary Pretlow 914-667-0127 518-455-5291 PretloJ@nyassembly.gov

Phil Ramos 631-435-3214 518-455-5185 ramosp@nyassembly.gov

Taylor Raynor 516-489-6610 518-455-5861 raynort@nyassembly.gov

Karines Reyes 718-931-2620 518-455-5102 reyesk@nyassembly.gov

Jose Rivera 718-933-2204 518-455-5414 RiveraJ@nyassembly.gov

Robert Rodriguez 212-828-3953 518-455-4781 Rrodriguez@nyassembly.gov

Jamie Romeo 585-467-0410 518-455-5373 romeoj@nyassembly.gov

Daniel Rosenthal 718-969-1508 518-455-4404 rosenthald@nyassembly.gov

Angelo Santabarbara 518-843-0227 518-455-5197 SantabarbaraA@nyassembly.gov

Nader Sayegh 914-779-8805 518-455-3662 sayeghn@nyassembly.gov

Robin Schimminger 716-873-2540 518-455-4767 SchimmR@nyassembly.gov

Rebecca Seawright 212-288-4607 518-455-5676 SeawrightR@nyassembly.gov

Michaelle Solages 516-599-2972 518-455-4465 SolagesM@nyassembly.gov

Dan Stec 518-792-4546 518-455-5565 StecD@nyassembly.gov

Steve Stern 631-271-8025 518-455-5732 sterns@nyassembly.gov

Al Stirpe 315-452-1115 518-455-4505 StirpeA@nyassembly.gov

Al Taylor 212-234-1430 518-455-5491 taylora@nyassembly.gov

Michele Titus 718-327-1845 518-455-5668 TitusM@nyassembly.gov

Clyde Vanel 718-479-2333 518-455-4711 vanelc@nyassembly.gov

Latrice Walker 718-342-1256 518-455-4466 WalkerL@nyassembly.gov

Helene Weinstein 718-648-4700 518-455-5462 WeinstH@nyassembly.gov

** Jaime Williams 718-252-2124 518-455-5211 williamsja@nyassembly.gov

** Tremaine Wright 718-399-7630 518-455-5474 wrightt@nyassembly.gov


***Here is a template for a letter anyone can use/modify

Your Name

Your Street Address

City, State, Zip code

Contact info


Dear Assemblymen/women, Senators and concerned parties:

I am writing to voice my strong opposition to Assembly bill A2371 sponsored by Assemblyman Dinowitz to repeal the religious exemption to vaccination. There are so many reasons why this bill is a horrible bill but let me start with the most obvious.

Speaker Heastie is attempting to bring this to a floor vote, effectively making the committee votes irrelevant. If this bill is so great, why can’t it be voted on in the committees it is supposed to come up from? Why is the Speaker making this highly unusual move with less than 3 weeks before the end of the session? If the Speaker does this, there must be PUBLIC HEARINGS on this bill before any vote.

There are many more reasons why this bill should not become law:

There is absolutely no reason to remove the religious exemption. It has existed in our state for decades and, despite what some try to claim, it has never caused any public health problems or concerns. The CDC reports that less than 1% of children have a religious exemption to vaccination in New York state, but more than 7% of children in New York have not received the MMR vaccine. Even if every child with a religious exemption was vaccinated, you would not make any statistical change to the number of vaccinated children. If your goal is to increase uptake of vaccinations, this legislation is barking up the wrong tree.  

Source: Vaccination Coverage Among Children in Kindergarten — United States, 2015–16 School Year, Mortality and Morbidity weekly Report, October 7, 2016 / 65(39);1057–1064 Ranee Seither, MPH1; Kayla Calhoun, MS1; Jenelle Mellerson, MPH1; Cynthia L. Knighton1; Erica Street, MPH1,2; Vance Dietz, MD1; J. Michael Underwood

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/imz-managers/coverage/childvaxview/data-reports/mmr/trend/index.html, retrieved 4/21/19

Unvaccinated children are now being portrayed as sick, and that is simply a lie. In fact no one is talking about the reality that when people are vaccinated the virus can “shed” and be passed on to others, and often people who have been vaccinated still contract the disease. For example we now know that during the Disneyland measles outbreak in 2015 of the 194 cases of reported measles, 73 were identified as vaccine sequence, as published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. (https://jcm.asm.org/content/55/3/735). It is also unconstitutional to deny citizens the ability to follow their own personally held religious beliefs.

The religious exemption should not be repealed, it should be *standardized.* The way the system currently functions allows the NYC DOE to deny residents proper and fair access to obtaining a Religious Exemption. In order to have an unvaccinated child admitted to public school, as is anyone’s constitutional right, the NYC DOE requires a “sincerity test” and may actually “fail” people on their own personal religious beliefs! This is outrageous!!! By doing this, the school system can deny access to a state law that is long established in New York.

I strongly oppose Assembly bill A2316. I request a response from you in regards to your position on this issue and how you will be voting on it.

Thank you.