The Center Square
A measure to prevent any government in Tennessee from requiring a COVID-19 vaccine passport is making its way through the General Assembly.
Amended House Bill 575 is supported by Gov. Bill Lee, who worked on the language with House sponsor Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, and Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville.
“I oppose vaccine passports,” Lee tweeted Tuesday in a statement also read by Ragan to the Tennessee House Health Subcommittee. “The COVID-19 vaccine should be a personal health choice, not a government requirement.
“I am supporting legislation to prohibit any government-mandated vaccine passports to protect the privacy of Tennesseans’ health information and ensure this vaccine remains a voluntary, personal decision,” Lee said.
The bill would not stop a business from requiring a vaccine passport.
The move is similar to those made by Republican governors in Texas and Florida. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently issued executive orders that said governments cannot require the passport for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Subcommittee member Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, said she supported the bill but believed it could go further related to HIPAA medical privacy laws. Ragan said he has a health condition that has prevented him from wearing a mask, using a shield instead, and he has not run into issues when he explains he has a medical condition.
Ragan said that at least one Tennessee county has passed rules requiring a vaccine passport or something similar already.
The bill will head to the full House Health Committee.