MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin business owners, university leaders and government officials would be prohibited from requiring COVID-19 vaccination or from treating unvaccinated people differently under Republican-backed bills moving through the state Legislature.
Gov. Tony Evers has already signaled that he will veto any bill forbidding government officials or business owners from requiring proof of vaccination. That and four other bills were heard at a public hearing Wednesday.
“Over the course of the past year, we’ve almost normalized asking people their own personal medical decisions surrounding COVID,” said the bill author, Rep. Tyler August, a Republican. “That has never been a normal part of society.”
Evers on Tuesday said, “it’s a reasonable request of businesses to make those requests.”
The Wisconsin Medical Society, which represents doctors, says rules requiring vaccinations help ensure patients and workers in hospitals won’t get sick.
Mark Grapentine, chief policy and advocacy officer, said in written testimony against the bill that employers could use the rules to “create a safe working environment for employees and members of the public who interact at a workplace.”
Two lawmakers compared the rules to those imposed in Cold War-era Russia or Nazi Germany.
“In whose world would you ever think you would need papers in the United States?” said Sen. Mary Felzkowski, a Republican from Alma. “That kind of sounds like… Russia and the Cold War. This to me is beyond unbelievable but there’s been a lot of things in this last year that seem a little unbelievable.”
“Or Germany back in the ’40s,” said Rep. Timothy Ramthun, also a Republican.