UPDATE: House OKs bill protecting disclosure of COVID shot status

The proposed bill would prevent COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Kentucky

Update from March 10, 2022:

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – The Kentucky House voted Thursday to prevent state and local governments and public colleges from requiring employees or students to disclose their COVID-19 immunization status.

The measure also would allow parents to opt out of a coronavirus vaccine for their school-aged children on the basis of “conscientiously held beliefs.” The proposal won 71-22 House passage and moves on to the Senate. Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers.

The bill was introduced more than two months ago, but it didn’t start advancing until this week. Its sponsors agreed to a more limited version that dropped a proposed ban on private employers from inquiring about the vaccination status of their employees or customers.

Rep. Savannah Maddox said Thursday she was “personally aggrieved” that private employers were removed from the bill but acknowledged it was necessary to get it “to this point in the process.”

“I believe that Kentuckians can make good decisions for themselves when it comes to their health care,” said Maddox, a Republican mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate next year.

The House agreed to another change Thursday to remove nonprofits from the measure.

The measure would protect employees of public entities from “adverse action” for refusing to disclose their COVID-19 immunization status.

Potential penalties are included for not abiding by the bill. Governmental entities would face up to $1,000 in fines per day, and funding for public universities could be put in jeopardy for noncompliance.

In opposing the bill, Democratic Rep. Derrick Graham said the legislature was intruding into decisions that should be made by local governments and university leaders.

“We talk about the overreach of the federal government, and yet that’s exactly what we’re doing here — overreaching,” Graham said.

The legislation is House Bill 28.

 

Original story below from March 8, 2022:

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — An effort to prevent COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Kentucky advanced Tuesday after a state House committee reined in the bill’s reach to exclude private employers.

The measure was introduced in early January but made no headway for more than two months until the more limited version cleared the Republican-led House State Government Committee. The proposal heads next to the full House.

Republican Rep. Savannah Maddox, the bill’s lead sponsor, acknowledged on social media that provisions applying to private employers were “polarizing to a point that the bill had begun to languish.” Those provisions were removed from the substitute version approved by the committee.

The bill still applies to public colleges and universities as well as local and state governments. It would bar them from requiring disclosure of a person’s coronavirus-related immunization status.

The measure would allow parents to opt out of a COVID-19 vaccine for their school-aged children on the basis of a “conscientious objection.” It also would prohibit vaccine passports.

“The intention is to create as broad protections as possible for Kentuckians to be able to decide for themselves whether or not to receive a vaccine,” Maddox told the committee.

Maddox has been mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate next year.

The legislation is House Bill 28.

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