LANSING — State Sens. Lana Theis, Tom Barrett and Kim LaSata this week introduced a package of bills that would block state and local officials from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations, masks or testing to attend in-person classes or activities.
“After a year of the state asserting control over much of our lives, it is imperative that we continue to protect the rights of Michigan parents to decide what health care actions are best for their children and families,” Theis, R-Brighton, said in a press release.
The four-bill package would prohibit the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services from requiring minors to receive a COVID-19 vaccination under emergency public health orders.
SB 602, sponsored by Barrett, R-Charlotte, would ban MDHHS from creating a rule that requires minors to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, wear a mask or take a COVID-19 test when asymptomatic as a condition for a student to enter a school or participate in school-related activities.
“For over a year, certain state officials have used constantly changing orders and guidelines to exert unilateral control over the lives of Michigan residents and the education of Michigan students,” Barrett said in a press release. “We must continue to limit these overreaching measures and defend the rights of Michiganders to make their own health care decisions based on what is best for their own families. No person should have their privacy invaded or be discriminated against based on personal medical information like their own private vaccination status.”
Barrett Chief of Staff Ron Kendall, via email, said the senator’s bill is not intended to prohibit any state rules regarding vaccination for other diseases. He noted the bill would be moot if the FDA issues full authorization rather than emergency use authorization. Kendall said the COVID vaccine currently doesn’t provide vaccine waiver or opt out rules.
“Furthermore, if the administration or MDHHS used the testing and discriminative treatment of those unvaccinated as a means to coerce vaccination that is also unacceptable,” he said.
Kendall also said the prohibition on testing asymptomatic individuals is different than testing asymptomatic athletes for health conditions because it would be ongoing.
“The prohibition as condition of entering is centered around how the testing would be conducted and information be collected and kept,” he said. “The type and frequency of testing would be exclusively for those that are unvaccinated. The prohibition wouldn’t be a singular test conducted once a year, such as a physical, there would be a test as long as someone refused to be vaccinated.”
Senate Bill 600, sponsored by Theis, would prohibit schools from requiring a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of attending public school, riding a school bus, attending a school-sponsored event, or participating in school sports, band, theater or other activities.
It also prohibits schools from requiring that an individual receive a vaccination in order to attend a school board meeting.
SB 601, also sponsored by Theis, would prohibit schools from requiring a facemask for students to attend school, ride the bus, participate in any activities without providing an opt-out.
It also prohibits schools from testing asymptomatic students for them to be able to attend school, ride the bus, participate in activities such as sports or from treating tested and untested students differently. Further, it prohibits the school from requiring someone who is asymptomatic to be tested for COVID-19 in order to attend a school board meeting.
SB 603, sponsored by LaSata, would prohibit MDHHS or a local health officer from issuing an order that requires a student to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, wear a mask or take a COVID-19 test as a condition of attending or entering a school or participating in school activities. DHHS and local health officers would also be prohibited from issuing orders that require an individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, wear a mask or get tested in order to attend a school board meeting.
The bill package was introduced the same day the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new mask guidelines, recommending that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 resume wearing masks while indoors in some situations.
The agency also recommended everyone inside K-12 schools wear a mask, even if they are fully vaccinated.
The bills have been referred to the Committee on Education and Career Readiness.