File-Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb vaccinated

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb receives his Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine during the state's first mass vaccination clinic at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Friday, March 5, 2021, in Indianapolis. The state health department said nearly 17,000 people had filled up four days of appointments for the speedway clinic. Content Exchange

(The Center Square) – A state representative warned his colleagues this week that vaccine passports, if not quickly outlawed in Indiana, will be used to divide and segregate people and create serious economic disparities.

“We refuse to be subject to conditions like those in Communist China where health apps monitor, track and restrict the free movement of citizens,” Rep. John Jacob, R-Indianapolis, said on the floor of the Indiana House of Representatives on Monday.

Jacob called vaccine passports, which some airlines are already saying they’ll require for people to be able to fly, “not just a slippery slope” but said they are also “paving the way for civil atrocities.”

Jacob introduced amendments to stop immunity passports to two Senate bills now going through the House. The first was ruled “out of order” and so didn’t get a vote.

The second is attached to a bill that addresses a number of fixes to Indiana’s criminal code. The bill, SB 197, will be heard on the House floor Thursday afternoon, and Jacob’s immunity passport amendment is expected to be debated and voted on.

The Jacob amendment says the following: “An individual may not require a member of the public to provide documentation regarding an individual’s vaccination status; require a member of the public to provide documentation of an invasive test; or restrict participation in an event occurring in or use of a public area of the premises of the state, local government, or business based on an individual’s vaccination status or whether the individual has had an invasive test.”

The amendment also makes it a Class A misdemeanor for a person to knowingly or intentionally violate this part of the law, coercing someone to release this health information.

In addressing fellow legislators this week, Jacob referenced World War II and the Nazis in Germany who forced all Jews to sew a yellow Star of David on their coats, saying immunity passports would divide and segregate people in the same way and would pave the way for crimes against humanity.

“We cannot allow history to repeat itself,” he said.

The Washington Post reported March 28 that the Biden administration is working with private companies to develop credentials -- commonly known as “vaccine passports” – and that they would be available through smart phone apps that would display a scannable code, similar to those used as online boarding passes to board a flight.

The credentials on the phone app would be used to admit people to stores, concerts and sporting events and allow them to board planes, trains and buses.

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There are now 17 different vaccine passports in the works, the Post reported, and they are “rapidly moving forward” in development.

New York State is the first state to launch its own vaccine passport, called the Excelsior Pass – which allows New Yorkers to prove they’ve gotten the COVID-19 vaccine or a COVID test. Madison Square Garden, a major concert venue, has already begun requiring the app for entry, the New York Post reported.

But other states are going the other way.

Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, issued an executive order April 2 prohibiting government agencies and private companies from requiring proof that someone has been vaccinated.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott followed suit, issuing a similar executive order Tuesday banning vaccine passports.

In Wisconsin, several Republicans in the state legislature are backing a bill to ban immunity passports, and there are similar efforts underway in Montana and Arizona.

It was too late to introduce a new bill in the Indiana General Assembly, so Jacob has taken the only action available to legislators in drafting his amendment and trying to attach it to one of the Senate bills that is now going through the House.

The amendments to SB 197, including the vaccine passport amendment, are expected to be voted on by the full House on Thursday afternoon.

A call to Speaker Todd Huston’s office asking whether or not he supports prohibiting vaccine passports in Indiana was not immediately returned.

A call to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office asking whether or not the governor supports prohibiting vaccine passports in Indiana was also not immediately returned.

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