By Terri Jo Neff
An executive order issued by Gov. Doug Ducey is temporarily protecting Arizonans from having to reveal their COVID-19 vaccination status in order to shop, attend public events, or receive government benefits. But Ducey’s executive orders issued under the state’s emergency powers laws cannot last forever, so Rep. Bret Roberts is pushing his fellow legislators to provide ensure permanent protections.
On Thursday, Roberts will be watching as the Senate considers HB2190. The bill started out as criminal justice legislation sponsored by Roberts but later became the subject of a strike-everything amendment by Sen. Kelly Townsend to prohibit businesses and government agencies in Arizona from demanding citizens provide proof, or what is referred to as a vaccine passport, of their vaccination status.
Many communities across the country are supporting the use of a vaccine passport policy, despite what Roberts called the risk of creating “a second-class society” of people who will not -or cannot- receive the COVID-19 vaccine. HB2190 seeks to protect the rights and private medical data of Arizonans while ensuring citizens are not forced to prove their vaccine status in order to shop for groceries, enter a bank, or visit their child’s school.
According to Roberts, the bill would also prohibits the government or private businesses from seeking information about a person’s post-transmission recovery if they ever fell ill from COVID-19.
Under HB2190, a business entity, a ticket issuer, or the state, a county, or local government entity or official is prohibited from basing access to a good or service or benefit on whether a person has received a vaccine. The bill also prohibits the state, a county or local government entity or official from requiring a person to receive a vaccine.
One thing Ducey’s temporary executive order and HB2190 do not address is the employee – employer relationship. That means a boss could possibly terminate an employee who won’t, or can’t, take the COVID-19 vaccine. Another thing HB2190 does not do is interfere with healthcare professionals who need to ask a patient’s vaccination status as a matter of public health concern.
Roberts has waited several weeks to see HB2190 get on the Senate calendar. He tweeted Wednesday evening that anyone seeking office should “give serious thought to their position” on vaccine passports.
“I could be wrong but I don’t think this…one will be forgotten,” he tweeted.
If HB2190 passes, it would make a violation of the new law a Class 3 misdemeanor. It would also allow a state court to suspend any state or local business license, permit, or certification for up to 30 days if the business violates the statute. The bill must receive at least 16 ayes from the 30 senators.