SB 615, which prohibits vaccine “passports” in Arkansas became law today. The governor signed it.
It joins laws banning mask mandates and neutering the power of the governor to act in health emergencies without clearing it with the legislature first.
The passport law has no emergency clause, so it won’t take effect for 90 days.
Does it apply only to public agencies? It’s written more broadly than that.
20-7-142. Prohibition on vaccine passports.
(a) As used in this section, “vaccine passport” means documentation that an individual has been vaccinated against coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
(b) The state, a state agency or entity, a political subdivision of the state, or a state or local official shall not require an individual to use a vaccine passport in this state for any purpose.
(c) The use of a vaccine passport shall not be a condition for entry, travel, education, or services.
That sounds like a helluva lot more than public agencies to me.
I’m waiting for someone toting an AR-15 in constitutional-carry Arkansas to seek admission to a tavern requiring proof of vaccination (OK, I’m dreaming a little about the provider of “services.”) Wouldn’t denying the request be asking for a lawsuit, if not getting ventilated by armor-piercing rounds? If not, there’s always the non-discrimination act to fall back on. Claim that your religion prohibits vaccination.
Somewhat more serious is the matter of traveling with private businesses that require proof of vaccination. You might want to say the state can’t interfere with interstate commerce with its silly laws. The record on the sovereignty law, which covers guns and every other imaginable constitutional topic, says the legislature believes otherwise.
Governor Hutchinson should have vetoed this conservative virtue-signaling bill. And quite a few others. But the legislature is to return around September to cut millionaires’ income tax. They could muster a vote to expand the agenda.
PS: The governor issued this statement on the mask ban and the passport ban.
I have signed both HB 1547 and SB 615. These bills confirm my position that there should not be a Covid-19 vaccine requirement as a condition of employment in state government. It does make certain exemptions and it specifically exempts private businesses so they can make their own decision.
I don’t see a specific exemption on the passport bill.