ASU’s COVID-19 Policy Puts Focus Back On Vaccine Passport Legislation

ASU’s COVID-19 Policy Puts Focus Back On Vaccine Passport Legislation

By Terri Jo Neff |

Since early on in the legislative session, Arizona Rep. Bret Roberts has tried to convince his fellow lawmakers that it was crucial to protect citizens from mandatory COVID-19 vaccination demands.

A bill, HB2190, introduced by Sen. Kelly Townsend on Roberts’ behalf would prohibit companies and government agencies in Arizona from demanding proof, referred to as a vaccine passport, of someone’s vaccination status in order to receive government benefits or enter a place of business.

HB2190 stalled out but fast forward nearly three months to Ducey’s decision this week to issue an executive order banning Arizona’s universities and community colleges from mandating that students show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status or be forced to wear masks “in order to participate in learning.”

The governor’s action came after Dr. Joanne Vogel, Vice President of Student Services for Arizona State University (ASU), announced that students who have not received the COVID-19 vaccination would be subjected to daily health checks, twice-weekly testing, and mandatory face mask use in all indoor and outdoor spaces on ASU campuses.

Rep. Travis Grantham, the Speaker Pro Tempore, issued a statement Tuesday calling for the immediate rescindment of Dr. Vogel’s COVID-19 policy or her departure from ASU. At stake is not only students’ freedom to be vaccinated or not, but the university’s finding, according to Grantham.

“I have received numerous calls from concerned parents whose kids have no other option but to attend a state university,” Grantham noted. “It’s important that this tyrannical policy must not prevent any Arizonan from accessing our state university system. Moreover, as the legislature prepares to pass a state budget for next year, I will not support funding for any state university that intends to harass or discriminate against non-vaccinated students on campus.”

Rep. Jake Hoffman also opposes the ASU policy which he called “a gross abuse of students’ liberties.” He pointed out Tuesday that the state’s universities receive hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds and that it was common knowledge lawmakers have language in the pending state budget which would prohibit ASU’s COVID-19 policy.

“They’re just basically giving the Legislature the finger and that’s a problem for our State,” Hoffman said in a radio interview. “It’s an unacceptable overreach by a political subdivision of the state.”

In announcing his executive order, Ducey called on the legislation to codify his executive order into law. The question now is whether the legislation Ducey is seeking will be HB2190 or if it will include something else.

For his part, Roberts said during a radio interview Tuesday morning that the governor’s executive order is “a good start” but he believes all Arizonans -not just students- deserve the same protections. Which would be provided by HB2190.

Roberts also said he is not surprised by the ASU vaccination dustup, although he found it interesting the University of Arizona did not try to implement such as policy. He remains hopeful his vaccine bill -or something similar- will pass.

The problem, he noted, “is future political interest” of those who have so far opposed legislating vaccine policies for private and public purposes.

“If the people make it clear that future political interest are in jeopardy then maybe there’s a chance” of passing HB2190, he said. “I put the right of the individual to make that choice (to vaccinate or not) before a business should be able to dictate whether or not you have to give up your personal medical information in order to particulate in commerce.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita provided a shout-out to Roberts for “taking an early lead on this important issue,” and called on lawmakers to prohibit vaccine passports “from ever being mandated by any government or business.”

Arizona Senate Fails To Pass Vaccine Passport Ban Bill

Arizona Senate Fails To Pass Vaccine Passport Ban Bill

On Thursday, Sen. T.J. Shope, a Republican, joined all the Senate Democrats to kill HB 2190, a bill intended to protect individual medical privacy rights. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bret Roberts, would have made it a misdemeanor to refuse services to individuals who do not provide proof they are vaccinated for COVID-19.

HB2190, which would have preserved fundamental medical privacy rights, came to be referred to as the “Show Me Your Papers” bill. After the vote, #shopemeyour papers was trending on social media sites.

Sen. David Gowan offered a full-throated defense of the bill:

Shope, according to sources, would settle for nothing less than a codification of an Executive Order issued by Governor Doug Ducey on the subject of vaccine passports. Roberts even allowed Sen. Tyler Pace to amend his bill that weakened individual rights to some extent, but said his bottom line was a prohibition of businesses refusing service to the unvaccinated. Shope refused to afford Arizona that modicum of medical privacy protection.

The ACLU has called the vaccine passports “troublesome,” yet not one Democratic legislator voted to preserve individual medical privacy rights.


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Senate To Vote On Whether Arizonans Can Be Forced To Prove Vaccination Status

Sen. Sonny Borelli voted against the bill at the last minute in order to preserve his right as someone who voted with the majority to bring it back for reconsideration by the Senate. However, in these final days of the Legislative Session, it is unlikely the matter will be brought back.

Senate To Vote On Whether Arizonans Can Be Forced To Prove Vaccination Status

Senate To Vote On Whether Arizonans Can Be Forced To Prove Vaccination Status

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.


Senate To Vote On Whether Arizonans Can Be Forced To Prove Vaccination Status

Getting Back To Normal Shouldn’t Require Vaccine Passports

By the Free Enterprise Club |

Vaccines should always be voluntary and never be forced. But COVID-19 came in like a wrecking ball last year, and perhaps its most significant contribution to the world has been an overwhelming growth in government overreach.

From the abuse of emergency orders to the senseless “mask mandates,” some government officials have leapt at the chance to dangle the carrot of “normalcy” in the faces of their citizens in order to take away more of their freedoms. Unfortunately, many have taken the bait. And now, we find ourselves at a crossroads.

The latest promise to return to normal comes in the form of “vaccine passports.” This ridiculous concept would serve as “proof” that a person has been vaccinated so he or she can have access to all the freedoms they should already be able to enjoy as an American citizen. As you would expect, Big Tech is first in line to team up with the government on such an initiative. And New York has already implemented the “Excelsior Pass” so that its citizens can “be a part of [the state’s] safe reopening.” (Given Governor Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic, what could go wrong?)

But nothing about this is normal.

It’s not normal for companies to collect the private health data of individuals. And it’s certainly not normal to force American citizens to submit to certain medical procedures as the price of doing business.

Thankfully, some of our lawmakers here in Arizona have not fallen asleep on this issue. Earlier this month, Congressman Andy Biggs introduced his No Vaccines Passports Act. This piece of legislation would prevent federal agencies from issuing any standardized documentation that could be used to certify a U.S. citizen’s COVID-19 status to a third party, such as a restaurant or an airline.

And just a few days ago, Arizona became the sixth state to ban COVID-19 passports when Governor Ducey signed Executive Order 2021-09. This prevents state agencies, counties, cities, and towns from issuing measures that require an individual to provide documentation of their COVID-19 vaccination status in to order to enter a business, building, or area to receive a government service, permit, or license. It also prevents businesses that contract with the state to provide services to the public from requiring documentation.

While this is certainly a step in the right direction, Governor Ducey’s executive order still allows for businesses, schools, and health providers to ask about an individual’s vaccine status.

That’s why lawmakers should consider additional action on this issue. One option being considered is HB2190. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Bret Roberts (R-LD11) and Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-LD16), would prohibit a company that conducts business in Arizona from refusing to provide everyday services, transportation, or admission because a person does not divulge whether they have received a particular vaccine. It would also prohibit a state, county, or local government entity from offering anyone a special privilege or incentive to receive a vaccine.

Currently, HB2190 is awaiting action in the senate, and negotiations are underway on potential amendments to the bill. Regardless of what those amendments are, Arizona lawmakers need to work toward stopping vaccine passports. They are a serious threat to our civil liberties. And while we all want to return to normal, we must remember that “normal” shouldn’t come with a price tag.

Ban On Proof Of Vaccination To Shop, Get Government Aid Is Held Up In State Senate

Ban On Proof Of Vaccination To Shop, Get Government Aid Is Held Up In State Senate

By Terri Jo Neff |

A bill which would prohibit companies, as well as a state, county, or local government entity from requiring anyone except public school students to prove vaccination status in order to shop, obtain medical services, or receive government aid is on hold while Senate Republicans decide whether to move the bill forward.

Under HB2190, a company conducting business in Arizona would be prohibited from refusing to provide everyday services, transportation, or admission because a person does not divulge whether they have received a particular vaccine. The bill also prohibits a state, county, or local government entity or official from offering anyone a special privilege or incentive to receive a vaccine.

Sponsored by Rep. Bret Roberts (R-LD11) and Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-LD16), HB2190 cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Rules Committee, and the Democrat Caucus last week. However, it has been held up in the Republican Caucus since April 1 due to two issues, AZ Free News has learned.

First, some legislators would like to see the bill amended to ensure certain types of employers can question employees about their vaccination status. Second, a provision of the bill would limit Gov. Doug Ducey’s power to order vaccination of persons diagnosed with, exposed to, or expected to be exposed to certain diseases.

According to Arizona Revised Statues 36-787, a governor can mandate the treatment, vaccination, isolation, and quarantine of persons when there is an occurrence or the imminent threat of smallpox, plague, viral hemorrhagic fevers or “a highly contagious and highly fatal disease” with transmission characteristics similar to smallpox.

HB2190 would revoke the governor’s authority to impose any vaccination requirement during such a public health emergency, but Ducey has been resistant to any attempts by the legislature to diminish his state of emergency powers.

The Senate is expected to reconsider HB2190 later this week. If it passes the Senate it must make it out of the House one more time before being sent to Ducey.

Arizona is not the only state where the question of a vaccination passport is receiving attention. The state of New York is currently sponsoring a smartphone app which can store the user’s COVID-19 vaccination or testing status, although it’s unclear how many companies -and which industries- may wish to utilize such a feature.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has already addressed the “vaccination passport” option by issuing an executive order banning businesses in the state from demanding proof of any vaccination in order to receive service. He has also banned local and state agencies from requiring or even issuing such a document.

Similar opposition is growing in Arkansas and Texas. 

In addition, the World Health Organization recently took a position against the use of vaccination passports for international travel, citing “critical unknowns” about the effectiveness of the vaccines and the ability to verify the authenticity of the information. The possibility of vaccination passports is also of concern for the ACLU.   

“Any immunity passport system endangers privacy rights by creating a new surveillance infrastructure to collect health data,” the ACLU has said. “It is one thing for an employee to voluntarily disclose their COVID-19 status to an employer on a one-off basis. But it is another for that information to be collected and retained, either by the government or by private companies offering immunity certifications.”