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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Legislation banning “vaccine passports” in Iowa is on its way to Gov. Kim Reynolds for her expected signature.
The Iowa Senate voted 32-16 without debate Wednesday to approve House File 889, a bill that prohibits businesses, schools and state and local government facilities from denying access to people who haven’t had the COVID-19 vaccination.
In addition, all government entities in Iowa would be barred from issuing ID cards with a person’s vaccination history.
“Iowans don’t want to be forced to have a chemical injected into their body to be able to go to a baseball game, to go to the grocery store, to live their lives,” Senate President Jake Chapman, R-Adel, said. “Here in Iowa, we will protect Iowans from being forced by tyrannical governments to inject their body with chemicals that they may or may wish to have.”
The legislation would prohibit the mandatory disclosure of whether a person has received a COVID-19 shot. If any governmental entity or business violates the new law by requiring proof of vaccination, they could not receive any grants and contracts funded by state revenue.
The legislation makes exceptions for health care facilities, such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes, and would not affect requirements that employers may place on their employees.
Sen. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City, was the only Republican to oppose the bill, along with 15 Democrats, while Sens. Eric Giddens, D-Cedar Falls, and Jackie Smith, D-Sioux City, voted with 30 GOP senators in favor of the measure.
On April 7, Reynolds told Statehouse reporters she "strongly" opposes any mandatory vaccination disclosure system as "an attack on our liberties and our freedoms" and would take steps to restrict their use either through legislation or executive order.
The governor said the so-called vaccine passports pose constitutional, civil rights and privacy issues and potentially set up a "two-tiered society," requiring Iowans to "either engage or become marginalized."
During subcommittee hearings, critics objected to the idea of letting hospitals ask whether patients, staff or visitors have had the COVID-19 vaccine.
But proponents argued that hospitals need to have a patient’s medical history in providing care and that the health of frail Iowans could be jeopardized if facilities like nursing homes aren’t able to find out if visitors have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Biden administration officials have said they have no plans to create a federal vaccine passport or credential system, but some businesses — like airlines and sports venues — have been experimenting with those systems
In other action Wednesday, senators — on a 31-17 party-line vote — approved legislation designed to provide liability protections for agri-tourism businesses.
Sen. Dan Zumbach, R-Ryan, said the protections in Senate File 356 — now headed for the governor’s desk — are similar to ones the Legislature previously put in place for fairs in Iowa.
The legislation would require agri-tourism businesses to post a written notice in a conspicuous location detailing the inherent risk of farming and alerting visitors that they are assuming liability for any hazard they may encounter as it relates to farm animals, equipment operations or potential wrongful acts of another visitor.
Liability protections would not apply in cases where an injury was caused by an action or inaction of the proprietor that was illegal, intentional, reckless, grossly negligent or otherwise created a dangerous condition.
Opponents expressed concern over comparative fault provisions in the bill and the potential for unintended consequences.
Also Wednesday, senators voted 48-0 to send Reynolds a bill that creates a Class C felony for a driver who intentionally causes the death of another person — either directly or indirectly — in an accident involving speeds exceeding the posted maximum limit by 25 mph or more.
House File 753 exempts public safety officers in the performance of their official duties.
If Reynolds signs the bill, the new law would impose a prison term of 10 years and a fine of up to $13,660.
Senators also voted to confirm four Reynolds’ appointments: Joseph Cortese II to the state Workers’ Compensation Commission, Dennis Mandsager to the Iowa State Civil Rights Commission, Uriah Hansen to the state’s Natural Resources Commission and Laura Sievers to the Engineering & Land Surveying Examining Board.
All of the appointees exceeded the two-thirds majority required for confirmation.
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