The Missouri Senate voted to ban in-state COVID-19 vaccination passports in a move that lawmakers said was to protect patient privacy and overreach from the government.
“We were wanting to make sure that people don’t have their fundamental rights and liberties — to be able to travel and to go to different places — to be infringed upon by the state or by different public entities,” said Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, who backed the legislation.
The measure, adopted by the Senate last week, “prohibits entities in this state from requiring documentation of an individual having received a vaccination against any disease in order to access transportation systems or services, or any public transportation facility.” The passport language was added to an existing bill that dealt with an array of transportation issues.
Even though the bill wouldn’t have an effect on potential national passport policies, Luetkemeyer said the Missouri Legislature wanted to do what it could do to protect citizens’ rights.
“We want to make sure that we’re not becoming a checkpoint society,” he said. “We don’t want to be like communist nations like China where you have to go and sign up and have some kind of passport and show your papers before you can freely travel.”
“That’s just not something that we do in the United States,” said Luetkemeyer.
The bill is now moving through the House. The transportation measure was read for the first time in the House on the same day it was approved by the Senate on a 26 to 7 vote.
Luetkemeyer said he believes the legislation will quickly move to Governor Mike Parson’s desk.
“The governor made it very clear that he is also not supportive of COVID-19 vaccine passports,” said the Republican lawmaker who represents Buchanan and Platte counties. “I think (Parson) stands united with the legislature and I’m confident if we get this bill to his desk it will get his signature.”
During a FOX News interview, Parson said, “We’re never going to do that in the state of Missouri. We’re never going to have a mandate, a vaccine passport in this state.”
However, Parson said Missourians are welcome to carry a vaccine card.
“That’s called freedom, it’s called individual rights. But it’s not the government’s place to do that,” he said.
Rep. Richard Brown, a Democrat from Jackson County, said the vaccine cards could be helpful but should not be mandated.
“I agree why and understand we need to have vaccine passports for public health and public safety I think it’s a good idea but I don’t think mandatory vaccine passports is a good idea,” Brown said.
The Biden administration has said it does not plan to require Americans to carry a vaccination credential.
Some government officials have raised privacy concerns over the concept of a vaccine passport saying that it could keep too much private, health data in one place.
Leaders in several other states like Florida, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee and Nebraska have also shown said they will not mandate vaccine passports.