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There are some of individuals upset by the proposed legislation to prohibit vaccine passports in Iowa. They are upset by the exemption for medical facilities, and believe it should go further to restrict businesses. I understand those concerns. Philosophically I am in agreement, but my task as a legislator is not to speak academically in what would be perfect, but to craft legislation that will actually pass and make a difference. That is what I have endeavored to do.

After seeing the need to stop vaccine passports in Iowa, I set out to do just that. Because I have attempted to find a path forward to pass meaningful legislation, I am now being accused by a few who originally wanted me to get this done, of being a “sellout” because it does not go far enough and contains the exemption for medical facilities. I can understand this reaction, but I think folks need to understand why this is not accurate. Here is the reality of the situation, the position I have taken as a result, and the question I pose that is at the heart of this discussion.

The simple fact is we do not have the votes to prohibit vaccine passports without an exception for medical facilities, and we do not have the votes to further restrict a business owner’s right to make decisions on this issue within the business that they own. Folks do not have to like it, but that is a reality that will not change. So, for those of us who want to get something done as opposed to just talking about the issue philosophically, we are left with a decision to make – do we pass legislation that would make a strong ideological statement against vaccine passports, prevent government from issuing any type of vaccine identification, prohibit businesses from mandating it for customers, or do nothing because we cannot get all that we want? This is the reality before us, and a decision must be made based upon this truth.

I have made the decision not to allow perfect to become the enemy of good and work to pass good legislation that goes a long way in stopping vaccine passports. It is not perfect and does not accomplish all I want it to accomplish, but I reject the argument that since we cannot get everything, we want we should therefore do nothing. If we follow the all or nothing approach, we would not have passed many pieces of meaningful legislation in the time I have been serving.

I did not like the exception for rape and incest in the heartbeat protection bill we passed several years ago, because I believe that all life is precious, but that compromise was necessary in order to pass the heartbeat bill. The question before us then was, do we protect 95% of children normally lost to abortion by accepting this compromise, or do we reject compromise and protect none of the children lost to abortion each year? For me, the decision was to take the exception, save as many babies as possible and continue the fight to protect the rest. The same, I believe, applies in this situation.

I cannot force others to think or vote as I do, and there are a number of legislators who believe that the exception for medical facilities is important to ensure they can protect patients and staff. I do not agree, but I understand and respect their perspective. The reality, like it or not, is that without the exception we cannot pass any restrictions on vaccine passports.

There is also a conflict between the rights of a business owner who built their business and pays the bills, and the rights of those who enter or work for the business. Should a business owner get to decide whether to mandate that their employees have the vaccine as a condition of employment in their business, or not? Some legislators believe the right of the individual is paramount, while others believe that the business owner should have the right to decide within their business, because their rights also matter. It is a difficult issue and legislators line up on different sides. Therefore, I arrived at the position that had the support to pass, and that is to deny state grants or contracts if a business chooses to require vaccine identification for customers, while remaining silent on employees. Still, the legislation and language sends a strong message on our position on this issue, and I believe it will have a strong deterrent effect on the concept of vaccine passports in any circumstance in Iowa.

Since I cannot get the votes to do more, the question is simply this – do we do nothing or do we pass this legislation that goes a long way to address this issue, while not accomplishing all we would like. Those are my options.

Protect most, or protect none? What do you think we should do?

Author: Steven Holt


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