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Ky. Lawmakers File Bill To Ban Businesses, Schools From Asking About Vaccinations

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More than 3,000 American flags are placed outside the State Capitol Building in Frankfort on Jan. 22, 2021 to represent the Kentuckians who have died from COVID-19.

A group of Republican lawmakers has filed a bill that would ban Kentucky businesses and schools from asking whether employees, students or customers are vaccinated against COVID-19.

The measure would also expand the state’s civil rights code, banning businesses from denying services based on someone’s “immunization status.”

Rep. Savannah Maddox, a Republican from Dry Ridge and one of the bill’s sponsors, said institutions shouldn’t be able to turn people away based on whether they have received the vaccine.

“Overall the intent here is to protect the privacy rights of citizens across the commonwealth. No aspect of this legislation is intended to in any way curtail the efforts at large to encourage people to receive a vaccine,” Maddox said.

“But ultimately, the decision to receive a vaccine—that is up to the individual themselves in conjunction with a healthcare provider’s advice.”

The bill would specifically ban businesses from requiring customers to provide documentation that they’ve been vaccinated as a condition of entering the premises.

Though state government hasn’t issued any vaccination requirements and thelegislature passed a law expanding exemptions for mandatory vaccinations,some businesses are requiring workers and customers to prove they are vaccinated.

None of Kentucky’s public universities are requiring students to be vaccinated, but two private ones—Simmons College of Kentucky in Louisville and Berea College in eastern Kentucky—will require students, staff and faculty to be vaccinated this fall.

Maddox has been an outspoken critic of Gov. Andy Beshear’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Last year she denounced stay-at-home orders and business restrictions andfiled measures to try and limit the governor’s emergency powers.

She also filed a proposal to bar the state from requiring anybody to get a vaccine.

Maddox says that individual’s ability to participate in society shouldn’t be tied to whether or not they get the vaccine

“Whether it’s a public university or an employer, their ability to show up to work to attend classes would be jeopardized should they choose not to receive a vaccine,” Maddox said.

The legislature will consider the proposal when lawmakers return for the next regular session in January.

Earlier this month,a federal judge in Texas threw out a lawsuit brought by hospital workers who opposed their employers’ vaccine mandate, though the decision will likely be appealed.

Maddox is also sponsoring asimilar bill that would ban the state from creating so-called vaccine passports that would be required for obtaining certain government services, and fining businesses that require people to provide a vaccine passport.

Beshear said earlier this year the state wouldn’t adopt a vaccine passport policy.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.