Rep. Bret Roberts is hopeful the Arizona Senate will soon vote on a proposed amendment to a bill which will prohibit government entities and businesses from asking people about their COVID-19 history or vaccination status as a condition of being able to shop, obtain a service, get into an event venue, or receive government benefits.
“I am hoping, wishing, praying it goes on the Board soon,” Roberts told Arizona Daily Independent. “Protecting customer access to essential services is imperative.”
However, Roberts knows HB2190 -aka the vaccine passport bill- is not perfect.
The proposed amendment to the bill does nothing to prevent any employer from asking employees about their COVID-19 related medical history or vaccination status. And there is nothing in the bill specifically banning employers from requiring a current or future employee to be vaccinated for COVID-19 as a condition of employment.
But Roberts believes for now that this is the best shot at getting any legislation approved related to vaccine passports. And he thinks it is time for Arizona’s 30 senators to own up to their position on the issue because Gov. Doug Ducey’s current executive order against vaccine passports will end at some time and it only applies to governments and those companies who do business on behalf of the state.
Roberts says the requirement of a vaccine passport, whether imposed by government or businesses, would create a second-class society.
“We’re literally talking about segregation,” he says. “There is no legitimate reason for this. We don’t do this for other vaccines, why should we allow this for something that has a 99.8% survival rate?”
And then there is the issue of the slippery slope created by requiring people to divulge their COVID-19 related medical history or their vaccine status to anyone but their family and medical providers.
“If we allow this to happen, when would it end? Roberts asks. “Consider the precedent it establishes, and the dangers presented to individual freedoms.”
HB2190 with its current proposed amendment also entitles licensed healthcare companies -such as including hospitals and nursing homes- to ask patients, residents, employees, and visitors, about their COVID-19 vaccination status.
A patient or resident could not be denied service based on vaccination status, but the legislation provides no protection against employment discrimination or denial of visitation privileges to those who have not been vaccinated.
In a tweet last week, Roberts pointed to what he saw as a hypocritical position between those who support allowing employers to demand an employee’s COVID-19 medical information and those business and civil rights leaders who a decade ago decried Arizona’s controversial “show me your papers” immigration bill SB1070 as harmful to due process and to the state’s future.