Any state-funded entity of Michigan, including school districts and local universities, would be barred from requiring a COVID-19 vaccination under a controversial bill passed at State House on Wednesday.
Measurement, HB 4667, is trying to ban government-sanctioned vaccine passports, an effort, supporters say, that limits state access to confidential health information. But opponents note that the measure – touted by pandemic conspiracy theorists – is unnecessary and will likely lead to unintended negative consequences.
“Monitoring his life based on his immunization status is frightening. It is not something that we American citizens should never take to be acceptable,” said Bill’s sponsor, Representative Sue Allor, R-Wolverine, during a speech.
“In short, Michigan should not be promoting or encouraging the development of vaccine passports. I can’t imagine there would ever be a time when a program like this would be a good idea.”
The House voted 62-47 in favor of the bill after little debate, with Republicans voting for the measure and most Democrats against. Four Democrats – Reps Kevin Coleman of Westland, Tullio Liberati of Allen Park, Tim Sneller of Burton and Richard Steenland of Roseville – voted with the GOP in favor of the measure.
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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state health department officials have repeatedly stated that they are not currently exploring any sort of COVID-19 vaccine requirement for public services. But many public colleges, including the University of Michigan and Oakland University, have already said that students who want to live in a dormitory next year must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Allor said the fact that the governor’s administration has repeatedly used the word “currently” in its description of not exploring vaccine passports, rather than excluding vaccination warrants altogether, indicates the need for the measure. .
The measure says a government entity cannot create or issue vaccine passports, require someone to present proof of vaccination to receive services, or impose penalties for lack of vaccination. The definition of “vaccination passport” is broad and vague: “a document or system created or used for the primary purpose of diminishing or expanding the civil and political rights, privileges and capacities of an individual depending on the status individual’s COVID-19 vaccine ”.
Under the bill, any entity funded primarily by taxpayers’ money would be considered a government entity.
Allor has benchmarked vaccine passports as part of preventing unvaccinated people from going to sporting events and grocery stores. But its measure would not prevent a private company from creating a vaccine mandate.
While there are other measures that would ban any sort of vaccine passport for private companies, there is no consensus on the issue among business leaders – for example, the Detroit Regional Chamber requires that people are vaccinated to attend the popular political conference of Mackinac this autumn.
“The Mackinac Policy Conference will be one of the first major large-scale events to occur as restrictions ease, and the Chamber, as a business organization, has a responsibility to manage the event properly,” Sandy K. Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the chamber, said in a statement released in late May.
Representative Julie Rogers, D-Kalamazoo, noted this House floor vaccine requirement as the only lawmaker to speak out against the measure.
“Instead of worrying about ghosts (problems) that don’t exist, this agency should focus on repatriating all of the COVID federal dollars owed to Michigan,” Rogers said.
In general, bills of this nature would apply to state departments but not to public universities funded by taxpayers’ money, notes an analysis by the House Fiscal Agency. Currently, Michigan Schools already require students to provide proof of vaccination against at least:
- Whooping cough (whooping cough)
- Hepatitis B
- Meningococcal conjugate
- Chickenpox (chickenpox)
Under the law passed in 1978 and updated in 2015, parents may be granted an exemption or exemption from these requirements in certain circumstances. The bill would not prevent schools from requiring parents to prove that their children are vaccinated against these other diseases, only COVID-19.
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While the House budget review notes that supporters of the bill believe vaccine passports could lead to a “two-tier culture” where those who have chosen not to be vaccinated are discriminated against, analysts acknowledge that the measure is “flawed in many respects”.
“Would the rights of Michigan citizens be negatively affected if the federal government or other states or countries restricted entry without proof of recent COVID-19 vaccination or testing and Michigan residents could not present such a evidence because the bill was interpreted to prohibit a Michigan government entity from providing limited access to immunization information to a private company that offered an app to citizens who wanted it? ”the analysis reports.
“In short, the bill may have unintended consequences that could inadvertently restrict citizens’ choices or limit emergency responses to a virulent strain posing a threat to public safety.”
Debating the merits of the measure during the committee process, House sponsors and GOP leaders invited avowed conspiracy theorists to testify. Several offered false information about the effectiveness of vaccines and echoed comments they had made publicly for months. Few of these comments were refuted by anyone during the committee meeting.
Several speakers compared the concept of the vaccine passport to the Holocaust. A caseworker, Naomi Wolf, had previously shared false allegations that the Moderna vaccine could be used to implant microchips into the body and that Bill Gates created genetically modified mosquitoes that might inject people with the vaccine.
Wednesday, Wolf shared tweets calling for the imprisonment of Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and “Nuremberg trials”.
The bill now goes to the Senate.
Contact Dave Boucher at [email protected] or 313-938-4591. Follow him on Twitter @ Dave_Boucher1.
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