Despite entities across the state saying proof of COVID-19 vaccination won’t be required, the House judiciary committee yesterday discussed a bill to ban Iowa from putting a person’s vaccination status on personal identification cards.
House File 889 also bans businesses from requiring people on the premises provide vaccination proof. If a business or government-owned establishment—like schools—violates that ban, the bill states that they shouldn’t be given state money or contracts.
The bill doesn’t forbid businesses from having screening measures.
The bill, introduced Friday, passed the committee 16-5. It can now go to the full House floor.
Gov. Kim Reynolds has said Iowa will not have these so-called vaccine passports and promised to restrict them with either executive action or legislation.
The White House has also said the federal government won’t have a system requiring Americans to have vaccine credentials.
Two weeks ago, Michael Richards, the president of the Iowa Board of Regents, said students at Iowa’s three public universities won’t be required to have COVID-19 vaccines this school year or next.
During the open comment section of the discussion, people who are generally anti-vaccines stood to speak in favor of the bill, including representatives from Informed Choice Iowa, an anti-vaccine organization.
Most had concerns about how new the vaccine is and how identification might impact privacy.
Many speakers also asked for an amendment to ban hospitals and other health care entities from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Others asked for amended language to prohibit businesses from requiring employees be vaccinated.
No one spoke in opposition to the bill.
When the public comments were over, representatives on the committee had the chance to speak.
Democratic legislators—Reps. Mary Wolfe, Steve Hansen and Christine Bohannan—said they would support the bill, but they were disappointed the discussion became partisan and riddled with bad information.
Bohannan used her time to correct some of the misinformation, especially about vaccine deaths as reported in the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database.
“There is no evidence that the (COVID) vaccine contributed to patient deaths. I think that’s really, really important to say,” she said.
Bohannan acknowledged that some people died after getting the vaccine, but those were people in the first priority groups—elderly people and those with preexisting conditions.
Hansen focused his remarks on how the vaccine has lowered death rates from COVID-19 and pointed out that the pandemic is ongoing.
He also said he has yet to hear any government official support vaccine requirements.
“In most of your emails, you talk about freedoms. And I get that. For me, this [card] represents freedom to me,” he said at the start of his remarks.
Hansen closed by focusing on the public health benefits of being vaccinated, even though he empathizes with the people who have concerns and repeated his support for the bill.
“I believe liberties—which everyone’s talking about—also come with the responsibilities and also obligations to our fellow citizens. Once again, I understand your fears and concerns, but the people I’ve spoken with back home, we share a different kind of liberty,” he said. “When I hold this card up, I get a little mental health liberty. And I also get the satisfaction in knowing I did my small part to help the greater good. So I hope the passage of this proposed bill eases the fears of those desiring it.”