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Wisconsin Assembly approves vaccine passport ban (UPDATE)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans who control the Wisconsin Assembly were set to approve bills Tuesday that would require employers to count a prior coronavirus infection as an alternative to vaccination and testing and prohibit government agencies from issuing vaccine passports.

Both measures would face a likely veto from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. The governor last year vetoed a GOP bill that would have barred public health officials from requiring people get vaccinated.

The first bill would require employers to accept documentation of natural immunity to COVID-19 in lieu of any vaccination or testing requirement. Republicans backers maintain natural immunity is at least as effective as being vaccinated. Similar bills passed in Florida and Arkansas last year.

A number of Wisconsin medical groups, including the Wisconsin Medical Society, oppose the measure, arguing vaccination is the best way to protect against COVID-19 and it’s not clear how long natural immunity lasts. Data from the state health department shows unvaccinated people are hospitalized at a rate nearly 11 times higher than fully vaccinated people. No groups have registered in support of the proposal.

The other bill would bar government agencies from requiring people to show vaccination cards to obtain services. Republicans say they proposed the measure because they’re worried that President Joe Biden’s administration may mandate such passports.

The Assembly passed that bill first Tuesday, approving it on a voice vote with no debate. It goes next to the Senate.

The Assembly was expected to vote on the natural immunity bill later Tuesday.

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