Attempt to ban vaccine passports in Arizona fails

Legislation would have banned government entities, businesses, ticket venues and others from discriminating against the unvaccinated.

Updated: May 21, 2021 - 11:31pm

A legislative effort to ban vaccine passports and punish businesses that require proof of COVID-19 inoculations narrowly failed in Arizona.

The Senate called House Bill 2190 for a vote Thursday, even though a couple of Republicans were missing from what was expected to be a party-line vote.

Should it have succeeded, the measure would have banned government entities, businesses, ticket venues and others from either discriminating against unvaccinated people or offering special benefits to those based on vaccination status.

Individuals breaking the law faced felony charges. Businesses that defied the law would have seen any state-issued business licenses suspended.

The bill exempted much of the health care industry from the requirements.

Gov. Doug Ducey banned public entities from requiring any proof of vaccination via an executive order he signed in April.

With a couple of absent Republicans, the party needed every member of their caucus to support the bill.

Sen. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, was the only Republican to vote against the measure. The former House speaker owns a supermarket, something he said guided his decision.

“I believe in private property rights and the rights of the sole proprietor,” Shope said, giving the hypothetical of an immunocompromised barber who can’t get a vaccine. “This bill in its current form would have the heavy hand of government shut that business down and leave that individual without a livelihood, and that is something that I cannot stand for.”

Sen. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, responded, saying the bill takes the appropriate stance on the rights of Arizonans.

“We all believe in private property rights, but we also believe in individual rights,” he said. “Any time that you have to go into a business and they can say, ‘Let me see your passport. Show me what you’ve done. Show me you’ve injected something in your arm.’ That is not proper. That is not individual rights.”

Sponsors of the bill may call it for reconsideration before the current session ends.

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