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Iowa House approves bill to ban vaccine passports

Vaccine Passports graphic

DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) -- The House voted 58-35 to approve a bill that would ban 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.

House File 889, and its companion bill in the Senate, would also bar 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.

"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 proposals have advanced quickly through the legislature, having only been introduced within the last week. Both bills passed out of subcommittees and then full committees earlier this week.

Earlier this month, Gov. Reynolds said she strongly opposes 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 would take effect upon Gov. Reynolds' signature and would 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. 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.

House File 889 now heads to the Senate for approval.

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