The Tennessee Senate passed a bill that aims to ban so-called “vaccine passports” on a state level.
The legislation would also take away public health powers from county boards of health.
The bill, named SB0858/HB0575, is sponsored by state Sen. Janice Bowling and state Rep. John Ragan, both Republican.
If the bill makes it through the state House, it will depend on the governor to sign it into law.
Tennessee’s Republican Governor Bill Lee expressed his disapproval for vaccine passports earlier this month on Twitter.
“I oppose vaccine passports. The COVID-19 vaccine should be a personal health choice, not a government requirement,” Lee said.
“I am supporting legislation to prohibit any government-mandated vaccine passports to protect the privacy of Tennesseans’ health information and ensure this vaccine remains a voluntary, personal decision,” he added.
I am supporting legislation to prohibit any government-mandated vaccine passports to protect the privacy of Tennesseans’ health information and ensure this vaccine remains a voluntary, personal decision.
— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) April 6, 2021
The move comes after the Governors of Florida and Texas signed executive orders for the same reason.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order (pdf) earlier this month that bans businesses from expecting “vaccine passports” from their customers.
“Today I issued an executive order prohibiting the use of so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports. The Legislature is working on making permanent these protections for Floridians and I look forward to signing them into law soon,” DeSantis wrote on Twitter on April 2.
He said in a recent press conference: “It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able to participate in normal society.”
DeSantis, a Republican, said that people shouldn’t need to show proof of inoculation against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus to go to a game, movie, theme parks, or other social events.
“You want the fox to guard the henhouse? I mean give me a break,” he said. “I understand, kind of, how some folks can embrace the idea, and I’m not saying it’s all necessarily done for bad purposes, but I think ultimately it would create problems in the state.”
Soon after, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order banning the controversial idea.
“Every day, Texans return to normalcy as more people get the COVID vaccine. In fact, this week, Texas will surpass 13 million doses administered,” Abbott said on April 6. “Those shots help slow the spread of COVID, reduce hospitalizations, and reduce fatalities.”
“But, as I have said all along, these vaccines are always voluntary and never forced. Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives,” said Abbott, a Republican.
Former Clinton adviser Naomi Wolf told Fox News on March 28 that mandatory COVID-19 vaccine passports would be the “end of human liberty in the West if this plan unfolds as planned.”