State Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, during the Timber Unity rally in 2019. (Jaime Valdez/ Portland Tribune)
State Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, has introduced a bill that would block businesses and government agencies from requiring vaccinations before members of the public can seek employment or services from them.
The bill takes aim at so-called “vaccine passports,” a document that proves someone has been inoculated and can resume normal activities that have been restricted by the pandemic, such as travel or concerts.
In Oregon, businesses can allow customers to go without masks if they can prove they’ve been vaccinated. Gov. Kate Brown nor public health authorities have presented the rules as “vaccine passports.” Both business groups and labor have complained the rules made workers the “mask police.”
Thatcher, in a press release, blasted the governor’s “vaccine passport scheme” as “an extreme invasion of Oregonians’ privacy” and called her bill “civil rights legislation.”
“No Oregonian should have to divulge medical information to participate in everyday life,” she said in a statement. “This bill is about making clear Oregonians’ rights, which have been railroaded by the Governor during the pandemic.”
Multiple Republican-led states have banned vaccine passports. It’s not clear what prospects the bill has in Oregon’s Democratic-led Legislature, which is approaching adjournment and hasn’t shown a willingness to buck Brown’s pandemic orders.
During a press conference Friday, Brown shrugged off Thatcher’s bill when asked about it. She said she was focused on getting 70% of Oregonians vaccinated, after which she would lift most restrictions.