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Proposed South Carolina Legislation Would Make It a Criminal Offense to Ask Someone’s COVID-19 Inoculation Status

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South Carolina Republicans introduced a bill that would make it a criminal offense to ask anyone about their COVID-19 inoculation status.

H. 4848, the bill under consideration, was introduced on January 20.

The bill states:

Notwithstanding another provision of law to the contrary, any employee, officer, agent, or other representative of a public, nonprofit, or private entity who inquires about the COVID-19 vaccination status of any student, employee, member, or anyone else seeking admission on the entity’s premises is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than fourteen thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”

FOX Carolina News reported:

Under the new proposed law, even just asking if someone is vaccinated could be considered a misdemeanor crime. It’s something those who are for it are calling a “don’t ask” bill.
“The government has no place in making you or telling you to take the vaccination, or threatening your livelihood if you don’t,” said Upstate representative William “Bill“ Chumley (R, District 35), one of the co-sponsors of the bill.
House bill H.4848 now heads to committee after being filed just days ago.
Chumley called the legislation a “freedom and job protection issue.”
The lawmaker explained that South Carolina didn’t want this fight, but it was brought to them by the federal government.
Lawmakers who sponsored the bill said they support the measure because it can serve as a bulwark against government coercion.
“It’s about protecting people from being forced or coerced into getting a vaccine for purposes of employment, admission to schools, or government services,” state Rep. Wayne Long, a Republican, told Channel 2 News.

“I get calls from people literally every week begging the legislature to take some kind of action to protect people’s rights, to protect their privacy, and to keep them from being forced or coerced into getting a vaccine that they frankly don’t want to get,” Long added. “And even for people who have gotten the vaccine, I’ve spoken with many of them, it’s really a privacy issue.”

South Carolina labor law attorney Jeremy Summerlin told local media that he believes the bill would be very difficult to implement.

“You put employers in an impossible position,” Summerlin remarked. “You’ve got a (proposed) state law now that says that if you ask about that, and try to comply with federal law, then you are going to jail,” he added.

“What if you ask your coworker about their vaccination status, and you are just having a conversation?” he said. “What if you are a nurse, and you ask a fellow nurse about it? Do you want the local law enforcement to go in and arrest them because of this law?”

 

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