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House OKs bill protecting disclosure of COVID shot status

March 10, 2022 GMT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky House voted Thursday to prevent state and local governments and public colleges from requiring employees or students to disclose their COVID-19 immunization status.

The measure also would allow parents to opt out of a coronavirus vaccine for their school-aged children on the basis of “conscientiously held beliefs.” The proposal won 71-22 House passage and moves on to the Senate. Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers.

The bill was introduced more than two months ago, but it didn’t start advancing until this week. Its sponsors agreed to a more limited version that dropped a proposed ban on private employers from inquiring about the vaccination status of their employees or customers.

Rep. Savannah Maddox said Thursday she was “personally aggrieved” that private employers were removed from the bill but acknowledged it was necessary to get it “to this point in the process.”

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“I believe that Kentuckians can make good decisions for themselves when it comes to their health care,” said Maddox, a Republican mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate next year.

The House agreed to another change Thursday to remove nonprofits from the measure.

The measure would protect employees of public entities from “adverse action” for refusing to disclose their COVID-19 immunization status.

Potential penalties are included for not abiding by the bill. Governmental entities would face up to $1,000 in fines per day, and funding for public universities could be put in jeopardy for noncompliance.

In opposing the bill, Democratic Rep. Derrick Graham said the legislature was intruding into decisions that should be made by local governments and university leaders.

“We talk about the overreach of the federal government, and yet that’s exactly what we’re doing here — overreaching,” Graham said.

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The legislation is House Bill 28.