Lois W. Kolkshorst

AUSTIN — A bill that prohibits governments and businesses in Texas from requiring “vaccine passports” has been signed into law by the governor.

“The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light various opportunities to improve the state’s preparedness to address a public health disaster.

“This session, we used the lessons learned over the past year to improve the state’s response to any future health event,” said state Sen. Lois W. Kolkhorst, R-Brenham. “I was proud to author and pass Senate Bill 968, which provides guidance and reforms accountability for state and local governments in responding to pandemics.

“Most importantly, SB 968 prohibits governments and businesses from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination status to protect individuals’ private medical information from the intrusive governmental and business-led mandates. This legislation is a great example of striking a balance between our public health priorities, civil liberties, and economic freedoms.”

Specifically, SB 968 requires: the Texas Division of Emergency Management to ensure adequate stockpiles of American made PPE, establishes legislative oversight during a public health disaster, protects access to elective medical procedures, establishes the Office of the Chief State Epidemiologist, and bans the use of vaccine passports.

“Having had many inquires about Carnival Cruise Lines sailing out of Texas, I am confident that like in Florida, Carnival will allow all to sail on cruises from Texas, regardless of their vaccination status,” said Kolkhorst, chair of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services Committee. “SB 968 still allows for health screenings such as temperature checks if a company chooses.”

SB 968 was passed by the overwhelming bipartisan support in the Texas Legislature and took effect immediately with the Gov. Greg Abbotts’ signature on Monday.

Lois W. Kolkhorst

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