Gov. Wolf says he’ll veto just-passed anti-vaccine passport bill, “probably a little far”

This Week in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — An amendment to legislation that would prohibit “vaccine passports” in Pennsylvania is “probably a little far” and will cause him to veto it, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said Wednesday.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 29-20 Wednesday afternoon in favor of a bill, sponsored by State Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York County), to prohibit “vaccine passports” in Pennsylvania. The bill alone seemed unlikely to cause a veto threat: “Vaccine passports” — in other words, standardized proof of vaccination status that could be required to enter some places and attend some large gatherings — have generally been a political nonstarter in America overall, a popular concept among some Democrats but a battle President Joe Biden and others have concluded they won’t win and isn’t worth fighting.

Governor Wolf’s objection to the legislation?

An amendment offered by State Sen. Judy Ward (R-Blair County), whose district includes part of Cumberland County, and included in the final bill which would stop Pennsylvania’s secretary of health from requiring face masks, imposing travel restrictions, requiring social distancing and ordering private businesses to close. It would also stop publicly-funded colleges and universities from requiring students and faculty to be vaccinated.

“As I understand it, the health secretary would be prohibited from telling anybody they ought to wash their hands,” Wolf said. “I think that’s probably a little far.”

Noting a breach of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 contact-tracing data, first reported in April, Phillips-Hill said in a joint statement with Ward: “The Senate took a firm stand that the state will not continue its ‘data creep’ into these very sensitive records and information by avoiding the slippery slope that is a vaccine passport.”

“For the past 15 months, Pennsylvanians have experienced unprecedented government intrusion into their lives without any input from their elected representatives in the General Assembly.  Today’s action ensures that does not happen in the future,” Ward added.

How do business owners feel?

“It’s a little bit of a complicated answer,” Alexandria Hammond, owner of My Girlfriend’s Wardrobe, a consignment shop in York, said.

She agrees with anti-COVID measures, such as masks and social distancing, which were supported by Democrats. But she said it’s “debatable” whether all the mitigation measures were needed to the degree they were imposed. One inconsistency, which she said was senseless yet devastating to small businesses?

“People could go to target, and people could go to Walmart,” which remained even when other businesses were closed because they sell food alongside other merchandise. “And they could buy clothing with the six feet of social distancing, wearing their mask with the plexiglass at registers. But yet people couldn’t come to my store to buy clothing, even though I could take all those same precautions.”

Her ask of state leaders, with respect to restrictions?

That they “apply them across the board, versus shutting down my clothing store but still letting people go to Walmart and Target to buy clothing.”

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