SALEM, OR -- A state Senate bill that would have only allowed parents to opt out of vaccinations for their children for medical reasons is dead. The bill's main sponsor, Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Portland/Beaverton), made the decision earlier this week to drop the bill.
State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) supported the legislation. He tells KBND News he's disappointed.
"I don't think Senator Steiner Hayward dropped it due to the strong opposition," Buehler said. "She did it because she lost key support from the Democratic caucus and she didn't have the votes to proceed to win a floor vote."
Oregon has some of the nation's highest childhood vaccination exemption rates in the country, and the number of families opting out of required shots has grown in recent years.
"This is a problem that needs to be solved," Buehler says. "Obviously, too many people didn't like the proposed solutions. I've been trying to get Senator Steiner Hayward to add amendments to make it more acceptable."
Buehler hopes a new bill will be introduced this session. He says although the bill is dead, the concept isn't.
"I think Senator Steiner Hayward is working on ways to retool it to make it more agreeable, but also to make a dent in solving this problem," Buehler says.
Rep. Buehler says a new bill would likely include more allowable exemptions to appease the opposition.