HARRISBURG – The Senate of Pennsylvania sent Governor Tom Wolf a proposal that would block the state, as well as any county, municipality, school district, colleges and universities, from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination, according to the bill’s sponsors, Senators Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28) and Judy Ward (R-30).
The Legislature amended the bill to prohibit the Secretary of Health from unilaterally restricting travel of Pennsylvanians, as well as issuing stay-at-home orders and ordering masking mandates.
During her speech to Senate colleagues, Senator Phillips-Hill highlighted the frustration she had over the last 15 months seeking clarification to unilateral orders banning travel to other states and its impact on her constituents, noting how local residents travel to Maryland to purchase groceries.
“The people of York County want to do the right thing, one-way orders from the Secretary of Health and no ability to ask for clarification have shown that this law needs to be reformed,” she said.
Phillips-Hill also noted that the vaccine passport concept seen in New York, where the state paid IBM $2.5 million to create a smartphone app to show proof of vaccine using a QR code, is a further encroachment of personal health care information by state government.
“This bill will ensure this Department does not continue its data creep by developing and using more taxpayer resources for another technology through a vaccine passport program,” she added.
Senator Judy Ward, who offered the amendment to prohibit the Secretary of Health from issuing unilateral orders, highlighted how the bill will prevent state government overreach.
“At its core, this bill 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 bill goes to the governor’s desk where he will have 10 days to sign the bill into law, veto the bill, or allow the bill to become law without his signature.