LaMalfa drafts bills to ban COVID-19 'vaccine passports'
North State U.S. Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) is introducing two bills that he says would protect people from being denied service because they cannot or do not want to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“It is unacceptable in this country that someone might be denied service because they are unable to receive a vaccine injection due to legitimate health reasons, availability, or simply because they choose not to receive one," said LaMalfa.
In a Thursday press release, LaMalfa said the Biden Administration's coronavirus team "has been actively working with certain private entities in efforts to institute COVID related passport requirements."
LaMalfa's bills were introduced as officials in Hawaii are looking into vaccine passports, especially for inter-island travel, and New York launches the nation's first vaccine passports which will allow people to pull up a code on their cellphone to prove they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recently tested negative for the virus that causes it.
"This country was founded to protect individual freedoms, and my legislation will ensure that Americans do not have their health decisions forced upon them by the federal government or private companies," LaMalfa said in the press release. "We cannot allow the fear and uncertainty of 2020 to justify authoritarianism and increased government control.”
Airlines and others in the travel industry are throwing their support behind so-called passports to boost pandemic-depressed travel, and authorities in Europe could embrace the idea quickly enough for the peak summer vacation season.
Technology companies and travel-related trade groups are developing and testing various versions of the vaccine passports, also called health certificates or travel passes, USA TODAY reported last week.
What would LaMalfa's bills do?
The first bill, which was introduced today, would:
- Require that the Secretary of Transportation prohibit air carriers from denying an individual air transportation solely because such individual lacks COVID-19 related documentation,
- Prohibit Amtrak from denying rail transportation to an individual solely because such individual lacks COVID-19 related documentation, and
- Prohibit funds from being used to create or administer a database of individuals who have received a vaccine injection against COVID-19, or for any federal agency to require proof that an individual has received it.
The lawmaker's second bill, which he said will be introduced soon, would:
- Prohibit businesses denying service based on COVID treatment status,
- Prohibit employers requiring that their employees receive the COVID-19 injection, and
- Prohibit state and local governments from prohibiting access based on COVID prevention status.
LaMalfa represents California's First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama counties.
Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth generation Siskiyou County resident and has lived in Mount Shasta and Weed her entire life.