Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte became the latest governor to ban vaccine passports in his state Tuesday.
While Montanans should take the vaccine, Gianforte said after he signed the order in isolation following a positive COVID test, “receiving one is entirely voluntary and won’t be mandated by the state.”
“That’s why today I issued an executive order prohibiting ‘vaccine passports,’ and I’ll continue protecting individual liberty and personal privacy,” said Gianforte.
I strongly encourage Montanans to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Receiving one is entirely voluntary and won’t be mandated by the state.
That’s why today I issued an executive order prohibiting “vaccine passports," and I’ll continue protecting individual liberty and personal privacy. pic.twitter.com/PwFhlH9yYF
— Governor Greg Gianforte (@GovGianforte) April 13, 2021
Other states run by Republican governors have also signed similar bans on vaccine passports after Democrats in New York and Hawaii implement programs to require proof of vaccination to participate in society.
Texas, Florida, Idaho, through executive action, and Utah through the legislative process, have each also banned COVID vaccine passports. Bans in Montana and Florida, however, stand out among the rest in applying the prohibition on passports to private businesses, with threats of license suspension for enterprises that require them. Idaho and Utah only prohibit government agencies from requiring proof of vaccination, and in Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s Texas, only private businesses that receive public funding are banned from implementing the mandate.
The distinction between the state laws underscores a deeper understanding of the vaccine passport threats by Republicans in Montana and Florida in comparison to lawmakers in Utah, Idaho, and Texas. A threat of long-lasting erosion of liberty comes from private enterprises above government entities, deceiving a public that considers themselves free. The absence of a government mandate on vaccine passports is worthless if businesses implement their own.
Missouri lawmakers are also considering a vaccine passport ban more in line with Montana and Florida’s than Abbott’s in Texas, in which private businesses would be banned from requiring people to disclose sensitive private medical information in order to participate in society.
“If we’re not careful … we’re going to allow corporate America to become a fourth quasi-branch of government that is far more powerful than anything that we have ever seen,” said Missouri Republican State Rep. Adam Schnelting, as reported by the Kansas City Star.
Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said she planned to take action to ban vaccine passports in the coming days either by executive action or legislative means. A bill in the Iowa Senate proposed in February would “prohibit employers, schools, health care providers and other organizations from discriminating against people are are not vaccinated or requiring them to be vaccinated.”
Arizona lawmakers have also introduced legislation to bar private businesses from requiring vaccine passports. Lawmakers in Tennessee, however, with the blessing of the state’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee, have opted to advance legislation that would still allow businesses to discriminate against people based on their health history.
Today, I introduced the “No Taxpayer Funding for Vaccine Passports Act.” This would prohibit any federal funds being used to implement, enforce, or assist in the creation of a COVID–19 vaccine passport system. pic.twitter.com/T7Z7X2tBG3
— Matt Rosendale (@RepRosendale) April 13, 2021