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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — The Iowa House on Wednesday approved fast-track legislation to ban “vaccine passports” that would require the disclosure of whether Iowans have received a COVID-19 vaccination.
The bill, approved 58-35, now goes to the Senate where a committee has approved a companion bill.
“Vaccine passports are unacceptable, unconstitutional and un-American,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Steve Holt, R-Denison, told the House.
“I don’t think Americans are going to tolerate vaccine passports. We’re not Europe. We’re not going to tolerate people not being able to travel without a shot. Not going to happen in America,” he said before the House voted 52-33 to approve House File 889.
The legislation has the support of Gov. Kim Reynolds, who called vaccine passports “an attack on our liberties” that would create a “two-tiered society.”
The House and a companion bill in the Senate, Senate File 610 would prohibit state and local governmental entities from producing identification cards with information regarding whether the cardholder has received a COVID-19 vaccination.
Government entities, businesses with sales tax permits, nonprofit or not-for profit organizations, or an establishment whether open to the public at-large or one limiting entrance by a cover charge would not be able to require people to furnish COVID-19 vaccination proof.
There was an exemption for health care facilities that was a point of contention for some representatives.
Calling it “coercive” to let governments and corporations require people be vaccinated before visiting a loved one in a nursing home. Rep. Jeff Shipley, R-Birmingham, offered an amendment to strike that exemption.
“I understand we want to protect people from COVID … but how much liberty are we willing to give up?” he asked.
However, Holt said the exemption would allow health care facilities to establish protocols aligned with CDC guidance on when masks would be required and when visitors would be allowed contact with residents.
“If, down the road we see this leading in a different direction, the Legislature can revisit it,” he said.
The amendment was defeated 9-85.
HF 899, which was introduced Friday, passed with the support of 51 Republicans and seven Democrats. Thirty Democrats were joined by five Republicans in opposition. Seven representatives were absent.
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