This week, my committee continued with work sessions on various sections of our omnibus Senate bills. We dealt with a lot of minor points, such as ensuring that extending outdoor dining would not let restaurants in the country overwork their septic systems and that actual court reporters did not need to attend every licensing hearing.
The most interesting policy we dealt with was an amendment to SB 155 that added a ban on “vaccine passports.” This was new to the bill, so the amendment had a separate public hearing and a lot of people showed up to testify. This issue has become more urgent as the federal government is now saying vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks in most places, so there’s more interest in knowing just who’s been vaccinated.
The amendment is being worked intensely, and it seems to be a balancing act between protecting people’s medical privacy, public health and safety, and the rights of businesses to protect their employees and customers. I generally support individual freedom, but I can see the other points as well.
Otherwise, the only activity was an in-person caucus in Representatives’ Hall – the first time many of the first time representatives actually visited the State House or sat in their assigned seats!
It’s been so long that people without legislative plates (or having positions rather than seat numbers on them) were madly checking their phones to find their seat numbers.
Mine has a nice view of the chamber (and for the first time is convenient to the women’s room.) The caucus was fairly general, but I and my vice-chair, Representative Terry Roy from Deerfield, did get to talk about the vaccine passport issue and get some feedback on the preferred approach.
Representative Carol McGuire