This week the mask mandates and capacity limits enforced by Dane County public health officials expired. However businesses and organizations are allowed to have their own policies requiring masks or proof of vaccine from employees or customers. A chain of bills in the state legislature could outlaw that.
Wednesday a state legislative committee examined a package of bills that would prohibit businesses and government entities from requiring proof of vaccination and prohibit discrimination based on vaccination status. The package would also prohibit state colleges, including UW-Madison, from requiring COVID testing or vaccines.
In a nearly 8-hour hearing, an assembly ethics committee heard public input on the bills. Those testifying at the hearing cited medical and religious freedom, freedom of choice, and risks of vaccines as reasons for their support.
Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke calls vaccine requirements highly intrusive. “The erosion of our rights is what really ticks me off,” Clark says. “It’s all being done under the the guise of ‘well it’s a pandemic. There is no constitutional limit because of a pandemic.”
Clarke has been a vocal supporter of former President Trump and republican causes since his resignation as Milwaukee sheriff in 2017. On Tuesday, Clarke made headlines for attending a mask burning party in Milwaukee, after the city’s mask and capacity limit orders expired.
The most comprehensive bill would prohibit discrimination based on vaccination status–that would cover all vaccines, not just vaccines protecting against COVID-19.
The Wisconsin Medical Society registered against the the bill. Three organizations registered their support of this bill, including one organization representing chiropractors, one anti-abortion organization, and another organization called Vaccine Choice for Wisconsin.
Many speakers at Wednesday’s hearing railed against the effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. While the vaccine can come with side effects public health officials and scientists agree that the vaccine is safe and effective.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that anaphylaxis, which can occur after any vaccination, is extremely rare. Approximately 2 to 5 people per million people vaccinated experienced anaphylaxis, which almost always occurs within 30 minutes of getting the shot – that’s why they make you wait after you get the vaccine.
The bills are still in committee, and have not passed either chamber of the Wisconsin legislature. If passed by the legislature, the bills would head to Governor Evers’ desk. Other state legislatures are considering similar laws and several republican governors have passed executive orders banning “vaccine passports.”