My dad used to comment, when I was insisting as a teen that I had a “right” to do something, “Son, your right to swing your arms ends at the tip of my nose. Remember, I have a right to not get hit in the nose.”
Consider: A person has the right to possess a gun, but not the right to arbitrarily shoot someone or to carry the firearm everywhere. Under certain conditions, the owner of a home, or other private property, has the right to prohibit firearms on the premises. Conversely, an individual has the right to boycott a store that will not allow firearms. A person has the right of free speech, but not the right to falsely yell “fire” in a crowded theatre. Rights and responsibilities are always a highly nuanced discussion.
On vaccination rights: I have steadfastly opposed mandatory vaccination bills. An individual has the right to refuse to be vaccinated for COVID-19, measles, mumps, hepatitis B, etc. However, individuals who own facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living centers also have rights, in particular property rights. And the clients of these facilities have a reasonable right to not face undue risk from fire, food borne illness, and disease. So why did I oppose HB 415?
While touted as a vaccination anti-discrimination bill, HB 415 overreached in preventing private businesses from using their property rights to decide what is best for ensuring the safety of patients and medical personnel on their private property. HB 415 also placed healthcare organizations in violation of federal rules. Owners of these private facilities believe that vaccines help maintain a health care workforce capable of safely delivering care to patients. Without such vaccinations, doctors and nurses risk getting ill, and potentially passing illness to patients, which can then spread to others.
For example, the hepatitis B vaccination requirement for healthcare workers prevents workers from contracting a frequently fatal infection. An accidental needle stick from an infected patient transmits the hepatitis B infection in nearly one third of the incidents.
HB 415 would have elevated the right to not vaccinate above all other rights. A non-vaccinated and potentially infected individual could not be denied access anywhere, irrespective of private property rights, or the safety rights of others. Republicans have always stood firm on property rights as well as personal rights.
Not surprisingly, the proponents of HB 415 misrepresented my opposition by incorrectly claiming that those that opposed HB 415 supported “mandatory vaccination,” and worse, supported a requirement for a “vaccination passport.”
This type of utter hogwash represents what is so repulsive about today’s highly polarized political scene. Sound bites have become the norm, thoughtful deliberation the exception.
Bottomline: I will always fight against required vaccinations and a required “hypothetical vaccination passport.” I will also defend private property rights and the rights of those who might find exposure to a virus lethal. HB 415 did not responsibly respect everyone’s rights.
With that, the legislative session midpoint is only three days away. Thank you for allowing me to be your representative.