Gov. Wolf vetoes ban on ‘vaccine passports’, health secretary actions

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FILE – In this Nov. 4, 2020, file photo, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during a news conference in Harrisburg, Pa., regarding the counting of ballots in the 2020 general election. Facing a deep, pandemic-inflicted budget deficit, Gov. Wolf will ask lawmakers for billions of dollars funded by higher taxes on Pennsylvania’s huge natural gas industry for workforce development and employment assistance to help the state recover. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Republican-crafted bill to ban so-called COVID-19 “vaccine passports” in some cases and to restrict the health secretary’s actions during health emergencies was vetoed Thursday by Pennsylvania‘s Democratic governor.

The measure split both legislative chambers along party lines last month, and Gov. Tom Wolf had previously said he would veto the proposal.

With millions of Pennsylvanians still unvaccinated, many seemingly intent on remaining so, legislative Republicans wanted to prevent what they view as stigmatizing policies that require proof of vaccination in violation of health privacy.

The bill would have kept colleges and universities that receive state money from mandating proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter buildings, attend class in person or undertake any activity. State and local governmental entities would have been similarly restricted, and governments would not have been allowed to include coronavirus vaccine status on ID cards.

It also would have kept the health secretary from ordering closures or directing people who have not been exposed to a contagion to physically distance, wear a mask, quarantine or restrict their travel. The Wolf administration believes the bill, if passed, would have applied to all cases, not just during the current pandemic.

Wolf also vetoed a bill to let judges hire private collection agencies to pursue overdue court fines and costs.

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