After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a ban on vaccine passports into law, Texans for Vaccine Choice (TFVC) issued a call to action for Texas to follow Florida’s lead.

On Thursday, the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that proposes to do just that.

Senate Bill 1669 from State Sen. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood), which has the support of TFVC, would ban businesses from discriminating against individuals who have asserted their individual right to not receive a vaccination; the bill also bans segregating such individuals. Citizens who feel their rights have been violated could file a complaint with the state attorney general.

It also puts long-term care facilities at risk of “disciplinary action” and “administrative penalties” for refusing “to provide services to a resident based on the resident ’s immunization record or immunity status for a communicable disease.”

“Regarding vaccine discrimination in long-term care facilities, I readily support anything that errs on the side of resident rights or protects resident rights in a pandemic,” Mary Nichols of Texas Caregivers for Compromise told Texas Scorecard.

SB 1669 also prohibits a healthcare facility or provider from refusing service to a patient because they aren’t vaccinated, and the same would go for medical students wanting to study at the facility. If the facility did refuse service for those reasons, it would risk losing eligibility to receive state taxpayer monies, in addition to possible “disciplinary action” and “administrative penalties.”

Insurance companies and state Medicaid programs would be banned from denying coverage or hiking premiums due to an individual’s vaccination status.

Additionally, employers would be prohibited from segregating or firing unvaccinated employees or using vaccinations as a factor in their hiring decisions, a provision that some opponents have characterized as an infringement on the rights of businesses.

Labor unions and employment agencies would be similarly restricted. The medical rights of school students and healthcare workers would also be protected.

State agencies couldn’t deny occupational licenses, driver’s licenses, or election identification based on vaccination status.

“Senate Bill 1669 aims to give Texans the peace of mind of knowing that their ability to navigate, participate, and function without being required to undergo an experimental medical procedure as a condition of that engagement is protected by law,” Hall told Texas Scorecard. “Currently, many individuals are being told they must consent to receive one of the experimental COVID-19 vaccines as a condition of remaining employed. Likewise, even FDA-approved vaccines have potential long-term side effects.”

“It is a violation of conscience to have to make a choice between employment and taking an experimental vaccine with unknown future health risks,” he continued. “Employers retain far more less-restrictive means to protect their employees and customers without requiring an invasive experimental medical procedure as a condition of employment.”

“SB 1669 is an excellent bill that would ban COVID-19 vaccine mandates of any kind,” TFVC told Texas Scorecard, calling citizens to support the bill by contacting State Affairs Committee members. TFVC also issued a call to action for hearings to be scheduled on SB 968 and House Bill 1687—also proposed bans on vaccine passports—which are currently languishing in the Texas House.

The last day for House committees to vote out House bills or House joint resolutions is May 10, while the last day for the overall House to consider House bills and House joint resolutions on the floor for a second reading is May 13.

Concerned citizens may contact the members of the State Affairs Committee, chaired by State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R–Mineola). Thursday’s committee hearing may be viewed live on the Senate website. Legislation may be tracked by Texas Legislature Online.

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.