April 12, 2021 | From The Federalist
New legislation is moving forward in the Tennessee legislature to implement a ban on government-mandated COVID-vaccine passports, but not a ban on passports required by private companies.
On Wednesday, the Tennessee Senate Commerce Committee approved an amendment to a bill governing county health boards to bar any “state or local official, entity, department, or agency” from requiring individuals to present proof of vaccination from the novel Wuhan coronavirus. The committee passed the bill with the attached amendment by 5-1 vote and two senators absent with the governor’s blessing.
At Wednesday’s hearing, a representative from Lee’s Department of Health testified the proposed amendment “is coming directly from the governor’s office” and clarified in questioning that the law would still permit private corporations to implement mandates for COVID vaccination for service or entry, just as they may require masks. . . .
At the hearing, Republican Sen. Janice Bowling read a statement from the governor in support of the amendment she proposed on Lee’s behalf. . .
Lee made clear ahead of the hearing his opposition to vaccine passports used by private businesses, but also didn’t want to ban them from doing so. . . .
The legislation now heads to the full Tennessee Senate chamber for consideration.
Similar vaccine passport bans have been passed in several other states as vaccine availability ramps up with supply and the capacity to distribute. Thirty-eight states including Tennessee, according to a tracker by the New York Times have opened up vaccine eligibility to individuals aged 16 and older.