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House panel holds hearing on “vaccine passport” ban bill

Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

COVID-19 conspiracy theories and misinformation were prominent in the Michigan House Oversight Committee’s first hearing Thursday on a bill that would preemptively outlaw government-sponsored “vaccine passports.”

The bill’s supporters expressed concern about privacy and government overreach if people are required to prove they’re vaccinated.

“Although the conversation at this point in time is specific to a COVID-19 vaccine passport, we must ask ourselves the question: if this is allowed, what might the next step be?” said Representative Sue Allor (R-Wolverine), the bill sponsor.

Some of those testifying peddled conspiracies and misinformation. Comparisons were made during the hearing to racial segregation and Nazi Germany, which drew a rebuke from Representative Julie Brixie (D-Okemos).               

“And I would be remiss if I didn’t state for the record that the comparisons of the COVID vaccine to systemic racism, segregation, and the Holocaust are appalling and abhorrent,” she said.

The committee chair said the plan is to hold a vote next week to send the bill to the House floor.

“The intention here is very clear,” said Representative Steve Johnson (R-Wayland). “We want to make sure the government isn’t creating two tiers of citizens based on personal medical decisions."

One of the issues that opponents brought up is there’s no specific plan to examine, as Governor Gretchen Whitmer has said there’s no exploration underway on creating a state-issued vaccine passport.

Some colleges and universities intend to ask students for vaccination proof in their return-to-school plans.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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