Wolf vetoes ban on governmental, college ‘vaccine passports’ – Times News Online

HARRISBURG – A Republican draft bill banning so-called COVID-19 “vaccine passports” in some cases and restricting the Secretary of Health’s actions in the event of health emergencies was rejected by the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania on Thursday.

The move split both legislative houses along the party lines last month, and Governor Tom Wolf had previously announced that he would veto the proposal.

With millions of Pennsylvanians still unvaccinated, and many apparently intent on staying, Republican legislatures wanted to prevent what they consider to be stigmatizing policies that require proof of vaccination in violation of health protection.

The bill would have discouraged colleges and universities receiving government funding from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to enter buildings, attend classes in person, or conduct any activities. State and local government agencies would have been similarly restricted, and governments would not have been allowed to display coronavirus vaccine status on identity cards.

It would also have deterred the health minister from ordering closings or directing people who were not exposed to contagion to physical distance, mask-wearing, quarantine or travel restrictions. The Wolf administration believes that if passed, the law would apply to all cases, not just during the current pandemic.

State Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York, the bill’s main sponsor, said she was disappointed with the veto.

“What we kept hearing from a lot of people was that they felt that this was too much for the government to do and that they didn’t like to see it,” she said.

In Wolf’s message to the legislature, in which the veto was announced, he called the bill contradictory, misguided and irresponsible, which particularly endangers residents of long-term care facilities and people with weakened immune systems.

He warned that medical providers and the general public would have been prevented from obtaining vital information about vaccination rates and vaccine effectiveness, as the bill would limit the Department of Health’s ability to collect vaccine and vaccination information for the nationwide vaccination information system.

“As we have seen with COVID-19 and other disease outbreaks, public health action is critical to saving the lives of vulnerable residents,” Wolf wrote.

Wearing universal masks, social distancing and occupational safety guidelines were critical to fighting the pandemic, Wolf said.

Republicans pushed through two state constitutional amendments that voters approved in May to effectively end the governor’s declaration of the state of emergency, but Wolf says many of the pandemic containment efforts are under the authority of his health minister in prevention and law Disease control of the state lie.

Wolf’s office has announced that it will not be introducing vaccine passports from the government, but believes private institutions, venues, and corporations should be able to set their own rules for vaccine status.

“Myopic legislation that ties the hands of people who work for public health will only make fighting infectious diseases difficult,” he said.

Wolf also vetoed a bill that would allow judges to hire private debt collection agencies to prosecute overdue court fines and costs.

The Court Fees Act would have come into effect after a defendant failed to appear for a hearing about restitution status and other court-related financial costs.

Much of the state’s unpaid costs, fees, and fines are traffic fines from people who live in other counties and are therefore less motivated to pay their debts.

State court officials say there are about 65,000 cases of money owed, about $ 16.3 million in total. Overdue costs and fines are rising about $ 1.6 million a year, according to the Pennsylvania Courts administrative office.