House approves measure to block state, local governments, schools, colleges from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccine

Secretary of Health would also be prohibited from restricting travel, imposing shelter in place mandates

HARRISBURG – The House of Representatives approved legislation authored by Senators Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28) and Judy Ward (R-30) that would ban the state, counties, municipalities, school districts, colleges and universities from requiring proof of vaccination.

Senate Bill 618 was amended in the House of Representatives to prohibit colleges and universities that receive subsidies from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency from requiring students to show proof of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The bill also prohibits the state or any local government from using taxpayer funds from developing a COVID-19 vaccine passport app.

New York state paid IBM $2.5 million to develop the Excelsior Pass, which allows New York residents to prove they received the COVID-19 vaccine using a smartphone app.

“The state has yet to prove it can manage and handle personal health care information as evidenced by the ongoing debacle of the third-party entity hired by the Department of Health that mismanaged contact tracing data of adults and children,” Phillips-Hill said. “A government-issued vaccine passport is a bridge too far, especially in light of how the state’s contact tracing program failed more than 72,000 Pennsylvanians and their very personal health care data.”

“I appreciate the House’s support for a plan that at its core is about placing checks and balances on unrestrained authority that was forced on the people of Pennsylvania for more than 15 months,” Ward said. “Whether mandating a vaccine, masking, social isolation or business closures, today the General Assembly said no more to the government overreach and unprecedented intrusion on behalf of the people we represent. It is my hope the Governor will take time to review these provisions with an open mind.”

The legislation heads back to the Senate of Pennsylvania for concurrence on the amendments inserted by the House of Representatives.

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