Senate Sends Judy Ward Bill to Rein in Health Secretary’s Power, Ban Vaccine Passports to Governor’s Desk

Harrisburg – The Pennsylvania Senate today voted to send Gov. Tom Wolf a plan that prevents the excess use of power by the state Secretary of Health while ensuring the protection of public health, according to Senator Judy Ward (R-30), who was a sponsor of the plan.

“At its core, this bill is about placing checks and balances on unrestrained authority that was forced on the people of Pennsylvania for more than 15 months,” Senator Ward said. “Whether mandating a vaccine, masking, social isolation, or business closures, today the General Assembly said no more to the government overreach and unprecedented intrusion on behalf of the people we represent. It is my hope the Governor will take time to review these provisions with an open mind.”

In addition to preventing an abuse of powers under the Disease Prevention and Control Act, Senate Bill 618 prohibits vaccine passport requirements.

The measure prohibits the Secretary of Health from mandating those who have not been exposed or in close contact with the exposed to wear a mask, stay at home or be socially distant. It also prevents the Secretary from using the same laws to force business closures.

It also prohibits the state, as well as counties, municipalities, school districts and colleges that are subsidized by state taxpayers from requiring proof of vaccination. The bill was amended in the House of Representatives to prohibit colleges and universities that receive subsidies from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency from requiring students to show proof of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Since the Senate concurred in the House’s amendments, the measure will now go to Gov. Wolf’s desk. He will have 10 days to sign the bill into law, veto it or allow the bill to become law without his signature.

 

Contact: Cheryl Schriner