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Utah Senate considering amended version of vaccination passport bill

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Merrilee Gasser | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – An amended bill that would prevent government entities and businesses in Utah from requiring vaccination passports for entry is now in the Utah Senate.

In its original version, House Bill 60 would have prohibited “the use of an individual's immunity status by places of public accommodation, governmental entities, and employers" to discriminate against unvaccinated individuals and made it a civil rights violation.

Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, made a successful motion during a Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee meeting for an amendment that changed part of the bill to allow businesses to ask employees for proof of "immunity status." That proof could be a doctor's note showing previous infection. 

Customers would not be required to disclose vaccination or immunity status. 

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The new version of the bill was given a "do pass" recommendation by a vote of 7-2 during Tuesday's meeting. The bill is now on the Senate floor for a vote. Since it was amended, it would go back to the House for a vote if passed by the Senate. 

The bill drew mixed reaction from the business community. 

“I am completely opposed to vaccine passports,” said Craig Madsen, president and CEO of J&M Steel Solutions, who spoke in support of the bill. “They have no place in our free enterprise society. As far as contractors that I work for, if this does not pass, there will be contracts that are different. There will be employers and owners that I will not be able to work with, and this will restrict my line of business.”

Elizabeth Converse, who spoke on behalf of Utah Tech Leads, said she was opposed to the bill.

“This bill is anti-business and by banning employers’ ability to protect their employees and livelihoods, we negatively impact the economy of our state,” she said.

Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George, who sponsored the bill, said it is an attempt to go back to the way people did business before COVID-19.

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“I think it’s important to note that when we’re doing legislation, especially something around this, that this is not a COVID bill, but COVID has definitely brought it to the surface because we’ve seen what many feel is an overstep,” Brooks said.

The vote came after a rocky beginning to Tuesday's committee meeting. McCay opened the meeting by instructing attendees to abide by the rules, including no posters, stickers, flag waving, outbursts, protests, chants or “demonstrations” about how they feel about the bill.

Some people were removed from the meeting after they began shouting.