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Attempt to revive vaccine discrimination bill fails in Montana House

Pfizer Vaccine
Posted at 12:33 PM, Feb 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-27 14:33:04-05

HELENA — An attempt to revive a bill that would have banned discrimination based on vaccination status fell short on the Montana House floor Friday.

House Bill 415, sponsored by Republican Rep. Jennifer Carlson of Manhattan, would have prohibited state and local governments and businesses from denying someone services or barring them from employment because of their vaccination status, unless they provided exemptions for people who chose not to be vaccinated because of religious or medical reasons. It would also block the use of “immunity passports” – the idea, proposed by some countries during COVID-19, of requiring someone to show proof of vaccination to do certain activities.

HB 415 failed Thursday on a tied vote in the House, 50-50. On Friday, Rep. Amy Regier, a Republican from Kalispell, made a motion to reconsider that vote.

Supporters of HB 415 argued there had been misconceptions about what effect it would have on existing vaccination policies. They said they had heard from constituents who wanted them to reconsider the bill.

“A bill that is related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic deserves appropriate attention,” said Republican Rep. Sue Vinton of Billings, the House majority leader.

While the bill was supported by Republican party leadership, the motion to reconsider failed 47-53, with several additional Republicans voting against it.