Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday announced a ban on government-mandated Covid-19 vaccine passports in his state.
Texas became the second state to do so after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order last week prohibiting the use of vaccine passports in the Sunshine State.
Abbott’s executive order bans any regulation that would require Texans to show proof of vaccination before getting a product or service, and blocks all businesses or entities receiving state funds from requiring vaccine documentation.
The Biden administration has been working with private corporations to develop a vaccine ID system, with a growing number of companies saying they will require proof of vaccination to do business with them.
“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 in a Tuesday video announcement. “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,” the governor continued. “That is why I issued an executive order that prohibits government-mandated vaccine passports in Texas. We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health and we will do so without treading on Texans’ personal freedoms.”
Gov. DeSantis on Friday signed an executive order banning the use of Covid-19 passports in Florida, citing freedom and privacy concerns.
Significantly, his order also blocks businesses from requiring any such documentation.
“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 explained last week ahead of his order.
Republicans in other states are also moving quickly to deal with what they believe is a threat to freedom of movement in America.
During an interview over the weekend, Mississippi’s Republican governor signaled that vaccine passport ban may be coming in the Magnolia State.
“I don’t support vaccine passports. I don’t think it’s necessary and I don’t think it’s a good thing to do in America,” Gov. Tate Reeves told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, when asked for his opinion on the possible use of the passports in Mississippi.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers in South Carolina Republicans have sent a letter to the state’s governor calling on him to ban the implementation of vaccine passports.
Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., led his fellow South Carolina GOP House colleagues in a letter to Republican Gov. Henry McMaster over the weekend asking him to ban requiring COVID-19 vaccine credentials for citizens going about their daily business.
Duncan and the group asked the governor to “do everything in your power under the law to prohibit ‘vaccine passports’ from being required to enter, enjoy and move about our beautiful state.”
“The use of ‘vaccine passports’ to restrict commerce is a threat to both personal liberty and medical privacy,” the lawmakers wrote. “We are committed to fighting this violation at the federal level, and we urge you to do the same by working with Attorney General [Alan] Wilson at the state level.”
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem called potential vaccine passports “one of the most un American ideas in our nation’s history,” and said Americans “should oppose this oppression,” although she has not yet signed an executive order banning the use of government-mandated Covid-19 passports in her state.
— Kristi Noem (@KristiNoem) March 30, 2021
Missouri Governor Mike Parson on Monday said in a message posted to Twitter and Facebook: “I do NOT support a vaccine passport and have no intention of implementing one in the State of Missouri.”
I do NOT support a vaccine passport and have no intention of implementing one in the State of Missouri.
— Governor Mike Parson (@GovParsonMO) April 5, 2021
The Missouri Senate took steps to ban COVID-19 vaccination passports in the state. It comes as more discussion arises about vaccine passports and documentation across the county. The amendment was passed during the discussion of Senate Bill 46, a transportation bill. It is now on the calendar for a third reading and could be voted in front of the full Senate as early as this week.
The Oklahoma Senate on Monday also advanced a bill banning government COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Their bill states that state agencies can’t discriminate against people based on whether they’re vaccinated.
Republican lawmakers in Ohio last week introduced a bill to ban government-mandated passports in their state.
“Ohioans are encouraged to take the COVID-19 vaccine for the health and well-being of themselves and others,” Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, said. “However, a vaccine should not be mandated or required by our government for our people to integrate back to a sense of normalcy. We’ve had restrictions on our freedom for over a year and more restrictions or mandates are not the answer to every issue related to COVID-19.”
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said last week that his state will not participate in any “vaccine passport program,” and vowed to take whatever action was necessary to protect residents in his state from the federal overreach.
“This concept violates two central tenets of the American system: freedom of movement and healthcare privacy,” the Republican governor said. “Nebraska will take any necessary action to protect the private health information of our citizens and the freedoms we cherish.”
A bill introduced in the Arkansas Legislature last week would “prevent government officials from requiring vaccine passports for any reason and would ban their use as a condition of ‘entry, travel, education, employment or services.'”
Utah passed a law blocking the state government from requiring people to take the COVID-19 vaccine, but allows private companies to use vaccine passports “to determine which customers have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.”
Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy and sponsor of HB308, says now that vaccines are more widely available to the public, he doesn’t see the need for vaccine passports, but he won’t try to push restrictions on their use for private businesses.
“If we’re talking pure policy, I don’t think we should have vaccine passports or mask mandates now that people are being protected against the virus,” said Spendlove. “But I wanted to make sure we were very careful about using the power of the government in this case.”
Spendlove’s bill, which passed with near-unanimous approval from lawmakers, also blocks state colleges and universities from requiring COVID vaccinations for students and employees. In practical terms, the University of Utah, Utah State University and other public institutions cannot use vaccine passports, but Brigham Young University, which is private, can.
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon announced on Friday that this state will not be supporting or implementing any vaccination passport program.
Gordon’s spokesperson Michael Pearlman told the Cowboy State Daily “Wyoming has no plans to require vaccine passports or require participation in a vaccine passport program.”
On Tuesday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced on Twitter that he opposes Covid-19 vaccine passports and supports legislation to prohibit them from becoming mandated.
“I oppose vaccine passports. The COVID-19 vaccine should be a personal health choice, not a government requirement,” Lee tweeted.
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
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki played defense on the unpopular passport initiative, denying that the Biden government supports a system that requires Americans to carry a vaccination credential.
WH @PressSec Jen Psaki: "Let me be very clear on this… the government is not now, nor will we be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a [vaccination] credential."
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) April 6, 2021
Republicans governors and legislators seeking to ban “government-mandated” vaccination passports also need to—like Gov. DeSantis—address how private corporations are requiring such passports.