A day before the deadline for filing petitions for a referendum seeking to repeal a new vaccine requirement, some opponents of the mandate on Sunday announced a new initiative drive that will give them more time to achieve the same goal.
Backers of the referendum said the new initiative is a different effort and has nothing to do with their plans to turn in signatures Monday. They need to file the signatures of 365,000 registered voters to qualify the referendum for the November 2016 ballot.
The new initiative was announced on Twitter and Facebook by a group that has been seeking to recall some lawmakers who recently approved a new law eliminating the religious and personal belief exemption used in the past by some parents to keep their children from being vaccinated.
“We must do everything possible to stop this out of control government, this includes the recalls, the referendum and we have just filed a Parental Rights Constitutional Amendment Initiative,” said the post.
It includes a link to a date-stamped filing with the state attorney general’s office of a Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act that would reserve for parents all medical decisions involving their children, including whether to vaccinate.
The letter to the attorney general is signed by Lauren Stephens of Clovis,, a leading organizer of the referendum drive. The initiative “has nothing to do with the referendum. The referendum is still going,” she said Sunday.
Asked if the referendum has enough signatures, Stephens said it was “close” and additional signatures were being collected at fairs and festivals around the state on Sunday.
The Facebook post says: “The idea is simple, under current law and our current Constitution, we have NO parental rights whatsoever. Not only do we demand those rights, but those rights shall not be infringed!”
The measure was filed now in part because the filing fee for initiatives is going up Jan. 1 from $200 to $2,000, the post says. Supporters have six months to collect signatures for an initiative, far longer than 90 days provided for a referendum.
“We heard you when you told us that you want to keep the momentum going and that you were not ready to ‘give up your family’ of other people who are working with you in the trenches!” the posting said. “Make no mistake about it - we will stop at nothing to take back what is ours.”