My and David Edmunds' testimony yesterday on mandatory HPV vaccinations for middle school girls (House Bill 345) garnered quite a bit of press today. Apparently we said a few things House Health and Welfare Chairman Tom Burch and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Kathy Stein didn't like.
We made the front page of the state's largest newspaper, The Louisville Courier-Journal (both the photos here were on the CJ's front page), and prominently featured in the Lexington Herald-Leader. The story was also covered in the Kentucky Inquirer.
I think it was the most contentious committee meeting I have seen in my 16 years at the Capitol. When we finished our testimony, Rep. Burch grabbed his mike and went, to use a technical term, "berserk". It was all about sex, he said. If it didn't have something to do with sex, we wouldn't be there. I responded that, if it weren't for sex, none of us would be there.
He was not amused.
It's hard for demagogues to be amused. It's harder to fulminate when you're being amused: it gets in the way of being shrill. But that's the price you pay for stridency.
Of course, none of our arguments had to do with sex, they had to do with safety and parental rights--which Burch and Stein completely ignored.
One interesting episode in the meeting was when Kathy Stein attacked my wife. I had mentioned that I had been talking with my wife and that she had observed that when you go to the doctor or the health department to get the mandatory vaccinations, you are handed pieces of paper which many people do not bother reading--because they don't really have to make a decision about it. It is mandatory. If a decision had to be made, they would be much more likely to read the information and be educated on what the vaccine was all about.
Stein remarked that she was shocked that my wife did not read the medical forms given to her about her children. Well, for one thing, I never said she didn't read them. And for another, I'd love to see Kathy Stein give my wife, who has four children and spends a good amount of her time shuttling kids to their various activies--and every waking hour doing something for them (or me), a lecture on how to better use her time.
But this is just the kind of insulting paternalism that Stein and Burch consistently practice in their policy decisions. They think they know better for people than people themselves do.
To see a streaming podcast of the confrontation, click here. Click about half way through. That's where the fun begins.
The attention to the bill only hurts its chances, and the more they ranted, the more the media was interested in it. When I walked out of the committee room, I was surrounded by reporters (see photo above).
We knew this bill was DOA in the Senate. After what happened yesterday, it may never see a vote on the House floor. Jody Richards is running for Governor, remember. What happens when amendments are introduced and Jody is put in the position of ruling them not germane when they really are? Won't look good to those voters he's trying to look like a conservative to. Rocky Adkins also is said not to want anything controversial to come to the floor. This is apparently the case with the bullying bill.
In fact, this bill could conceivably have some trouble in the committee itself. The longer this debate goes on, the worse the bill's chances become.
Couldn't happen to a nicer bill.