A bill that would prevent vaccine passports from being issued or created by any level of government in the state underwent draft finalization this week, with the expectation that it will be introduced in the next few weeks.
While many details of the as-of-yet unnumbered bill, authored by Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin), are currently not known, a general ban on governments issuing vaccination passports, which are documents showing that the person in question has been fully vaccinated and can attend events such as concerts, as well as potentially travel internationally.
It is also known that the bill would likely bar private businesses that receive government funding for verifying vaccinations or testing.
“If you’re receiving funding from the state or the government, then I think you ought to be considered essentially an extension of the government for that purpose,” said Kiley this week. “So I think the prohibition would apply them as well.”
Assemblyman Kiley is currently writing the bill because of privacy concerns stemming from the vaccine passport essentially giving personal health information just to go on with daily life. He also noted that it goes directly against the notion of personal liberty.
“You shouldn’t have to provide personal health information in order to just go about your daily activities,” added Kiley. “I think that would be a very dangerous thing. It goes against fundamental notions or privacy and liberty, and it’s not a road we want to go down.”
He also followed up in a tweet, saying “As Vice Chair of the Assembly Privacy Committee, I’m drafting legislation to stop the madness of vaccine passports before it starts.”
As Vice Chair of the Assembly Privacy Committee, I'm drafting legislation to stop the madness of vaccine passports before it starts.
— Kevin Kiley (@KevinKileyCA) April 7, 2021
Kiley’s bill comes after the state has repeatedly denied any plans for instituting vaccine passports of any kind and, at most, are watching over vaccine verifications out of similar privacy and fairness concerns.
“We are watching closely what the federal partners do, making sure we have an eye on vaccine verification systems that lead around privacy, equity and fairness,” explained California Health & Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly earlier this week. “But currently, there are not current plans to impose or have them.”
Debate over vaccination passports continue as more vaccination, testing requirements are instituted for events by law
Many vaccine passport proponents have argued that they can help reopen several segments of the economy, including the travel industry, quicker due to having known vaccinated people participate in activities once considered high-risk for COVID spread, as well as give a more accurate picture on when herd immunity is reached.
The state only also currently allows some indoor and outdoor activities, such as large concerts or conventions, to take place for larger capacity crowds if all attendees have either been vaccinated or tested. Otherwise, they will be capped for a lower number of attendees.
This has triggered some, such as the MLB’s San Francisco Giants, to institute a “must be vaccinated or tested” policy in order to gain admittance so that they can have the higher capacity crowd as outlined in the new reopening tier rules.
“To many this is an important health requirement. But to others, this is a major bar in bringing out equal verification,” Alicia Hayes, a former health inspector who has advised many businesses on how to reopen properly, told the Globe. “Saying you can only get in if you have such and such like a vaccine or being tested unfairly affects less wealthy people who may not own a smartphone for digital verification and those that have simply not been in a vaccination tier yet.”
“This is why we’ve seen a lot of resistance to having vaccine passports. Even by doing everything we can to not leave people out we still leave people out. Not to mention that you may have to give private medical info out everywhere you go. It’s definitely concerning for some activities that may be requiring it.”
The bill is expected to be heard later this month.