INDIANAPOLIS – State lawmakers on Thursday approved vaccine passport language that had never had a public hearing or passed either chamber in the Indiana General Assembly.
The provision was placed in a wide-ranging health care and insurance bill Wednesday night.
House Bill 1405 passed 88-10 in the House and 48-1 in the Senate.
The language says state and local units can't issue or require a so-called vaccine passport – or proof of vaccination status for COVID-19. It doesn't go as far as a proposed amendment last week in the Indiana House, which also barred private businesses from asking about or requiring information on your vaccine status.
GOP legislative leaders said last week they were shopping for a place for some sort of ban on vaccine passports.
Rep. Martin Carbaugh, R-Fort Wayne, said state law already protects Hoosiers from being forced to get a vaccine. And this provision builds on that protection for private health information.
But Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis, said it is sad that the language was added – noting it is “chasing chimeras.” The phrase is known for being an illusory problem.
It is unclear if schools count as a “local unit.” The phrase isn't defined in the new language. It is in other parts of the Indiana code with varying definitions – though usually cities, counties, towns and townships. In one place a school corporation is included.
Legislative leaders said later that it is not their intent for schools or universities to be covered – only traditional local government.
House Speaker Todd Huston said it was important to ensure that private businesses can make their own decisions on what is best for their employees and customers.
All northeast Indiana lawmakers voted yes.