Exclusive–Kobach: A Tale of Two States: New York Legislators Propose Vaccine Mandates While Arizona Legislators Push Back

New York is the first state to launch a “vaccine passport” program, allowing New Yorkers to pull up a code on their phones to prove they have received a coronavirus vaccine or have tested negative.
Governor.ny.gov

The next phase of COVID coercion is rapidly coming down the pike.  Indeed, it’s already spreading throughout Europe.  It is a regime of vaccine “passports”—permitting citizens access to vital services and travel only if they have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Denmark and Sweden recently announced the rollout of a passport system that would allow only vaccinated citizens to travel, dine out, or attend large in-person events like concerts.  And the European Union is poised to vote on regulations allowing travel between member countries only by those persons who have been vaccinated.  It’s a softer version of a vaccine mandate—making it very difficult to get by without a vaccination.

Right on cue, New York State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal introduced a bill last week to require residents of the Empire State to get COVID-19 vaccines if certain health officials declare that immunity levels are not high enough.  The legislation states:  “If public health officials determine that residents of the state are not developing sufficient immunity from COVID-19, the department shall mandate vaccination for all individuals or groups of individuals who, as shown by clinical data, are proven to be safe to receive such vaccine….”

Meanwhile, in Arizona, legislators are at work protecting their residents against vaccine mandates—both government mandates and private ones.  State Representative Bret Roberts and State Senator Kelly Townsend are introducing legislation that will be voted on in committee Wednesday to prevent a vaccine passport regime in Arizona.  Based on a model bill drafted by the Alliance for Free Citizens, the legislation states that businesses may “not refuse to provide any service, product, admission to a venue, or transportation to a person because that person has or has not received” a vaccine.

Under the Arizona legislation, businesses face the loss of their licenses if they attempt to force customers to get vaccinations.  And local governments are forbidden from imposing any vaccination requirements or incentives.

Arizona’s legislation is a bold step to protect the freedom of its residents to chose whether or not they wish to receive the vaccine.  Every American has a fundamental right to decide what medicines or vaccines go into his or her body.  It’s a tribute to the Grand Canyon State that its legislators are leading the charge in defense of liberty.  And it’s not particularly surprising that legislators in New York are moving in the opposite direction.

However, this is not an issue that will be limited to those two states.  Sooner or later, proposals for public vaccine mandates and private vaccine requirements will arrive in all fifty states.  It’s time for freedom-loving legislators to take a stand, before that happens.

Kris W. Kobach served as the Secretary of State of Kansas during 2011-2019.  He was tapped by President Trump to lead the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity in 2017.  An expert in immigration law and policy as well, he coauthored the Arizona SB-1070 immigration law.  He currently serves as General Counsel for the Alliance for Free Citizens.

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