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Iowa Legislature sends bill to ban vaccine passports to Gov. Reynolds

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) — The Iowa Senate voted 32-16 Wednesday to send legislation banning vaccine passports to Governor Kim Reynolds’ desk for her expected signature.

House File 889 bans government entities, private businesses and venues open to the public from requiring Iowans to present “vaccine passports” as proof they’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine. The bill also bars any government entity or business that requires such proof from receiving any grants and contracts funded by state revenue. The bill makes exceptions for health and long-term care facilities and would not affect requirements that employers may place on their employees.

The Iowa House passed the bill by a 58-35 vote exactly one week ago.

“No Iowan should be forced to have a chemical injected into their body against their will to be able to resume their everyday lives,” Rep. Steve Holt (R-Denison) said. “I believe vaccine passports are un-American and unconstitutional and I was proud to lead this legislation to protect Iowans’ freedom to make the health care decision that is best for them.”

The bill moved quickly through the legislature, passing through a subcommittee, committee and then the House in just a matter of days.

Last month, Gov. Reynolds said she strongly opposed any mandatory vaccination disclosure system and would take steps to restrict their use either through legislation or executive order. The Governor said vaccine passports pose constitutional, civil rights, and privacy issues and potentially set up a “two-tiered society.”

The bill takes effect upon Gov. Reynolds’ signature and will prohibit state and local governmental entities from producing identification cards that include information regarding whether the cardholder has received the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Iowans have been loud and clear. They want their medical freedoms protected and their health care information to remain private. We heard from our constituents and we took action,” House Speaker Pat Grassley (R-New Hartford) said.

Democrats questioned why Republicans were proposing a bill to ban a passport that doesn’t exist in Iowa or on the federal level. Biden administration officials have said they will not create a federal vaccine passport or credential system or require travelers or businesses to be inoculated.

Iowa Republicans say federal officials may change their position or policies so they believe state action is necessary. So far, the push to develop digital COVID-19 vaccine proof has come from businesses including airlines and sports venues that have been experimenting with such systems.

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