Tea Party Patriot’s Jenny Beth Martin: ‘Liberty Demands Eternal Vigilance’

Jenny Beth Martin

Thursday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots to the newsmakers line to talk about their ‘just say no’ program and the ongoing fight for liberty.

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Tennessee Special Sessions Cost More Than $30K Per Day

If Gov. Bill Lee calls for a special session of the Tennessee Legislature, it will cost state taxpayers more than $30,000 per day.

Each day the House and Senate meet costs $30,750 in per diem for lawmakers, while each round trip for all lawmakers costs taxpayers $15,474 in mileage, according to Connie Ridley, the director of Tennessee’s Office of Legislative Administration.

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Federal Judge Sides With Norwegian Cruise Line, Issues Injunction Against Florida Law

Cruise ship in the ocean during sunset

A Miami-based federal judge granted a request from Norwegian Cruise Line and has issued a preliminary injunction blocking a Florida law banning vaccine passports.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the law after this past Spring’s legislative session, which says no business operating in Florida may require customers or patrons to prove they are vaccinated against COVID.

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Biden, DeSantis Exchange Jabs over Handling of COVID

President Joe Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have been exchanging verbal punches at one another over each other’s handling of the COVID pandemic.
Biden criticized DeSantis on Tuesday for opposing mask mandates and for vaccine passports, specifically noting DeSantis’ fight with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over vaccine passports for the cruise industry.

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Commentary: Nope, I Won’t Mask up Again

Last March, I followed the CDC’s advice and got fully vaccinated against COVID-19. I did so more out of a sense of civic duty than any actual fear that I might contract the virus. It was just an easy and scientifically sound way to help slow its spread. Naturally, I was delighted when the CDC finally announced that fully vaccinated people could safely participate in indoor and outdoor activities without wearing inconvenient and clinically useless face masks. Now, the CDC has reversed itself and issued new guidance telling 163.6 million fully vaccinated Americans to put our masks back on. Sorry, no sale.

First, the CDC published no data supporting its bizarre reversal. The Washington Post reports: “In the text of the updated masking guidance, the agency merely cited ‘CDC COVID-19 Response Team, unpublished data, 2021.’” Moreover, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is struggling to produce a plausible explanation. She claimed without evidence on ABC News that “new science” has emerged showing that fully vaccinated people should be masking.

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DeWine Signs Bill Banning Ohio Public Colleges from Forcing Student Vaccinations

Gov. Mike DeWine (R) Thursday signed HB 244 into law, a bill that disallows schools and universities from forcing their students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Until the three COVID-19 vaccines, developed by Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer, respectively, receive full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that law will stand, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. 

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Appellate Court to Decide Florida’s Cruise Industry Fight with CDC

Cruise ship next to dock

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will be hearing a case between the State of Florida and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over cruise industry COVID-related restrictions.

Last month, a federal district judge sided with Florida and issued an immediate injunction against the CDC-imposed COVID restrictions on the cruise industry, halting the restrictions temporarily.

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Virginia College Will Segregate Students with Vaccination Badges

Citing a tip from a student, Young America’s Foundation Monday morning reported that Emory & Henry College in Virginia will require students to wear special lanyards designating their COVID-19 vaccination status. 

“After listening to voices desiring a safe return to a more normal campus environment and using the date available to us regarding COVID-19 vaccination rates, the campus has decided that having a visible showing those who are vaccinated is the best route for our campus,” Dean of Students Tracey Wright said in an email to students. “Therefore, we are providing all who are fully vaccinated with a special lanyard that must be worn on campus.” 

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Arizona Legislature Bans Vaccine Passports

Passport

PHOENIX, Arizona – Last week, the Arizona legislature banned the state from mandating COVID-19 vaccine passports. These were provisions packed into legislation concerning the budget – a version of which was passed by the House on Friday.

The legislation banning COVID-19 vaccine passports applies to the state and all cities, towns, and counties – it passed along party lines. That legislation also bars government entities from requiring businesses to obtain proof of vaccination in order to allow patrons to enter. An amendment adopted onto that bill also specifies that emergency use authorization (EUA) vaccines may not be required for school attendance, and obligates employers to accommodate employees who decline the COVID-19 vaccine based on religious beliefs, practices, or observances.

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DeWine Speaks Out Against Bill to Ban Vaccine Passports

Gov. Mike DeWine (R) will not support a bill that would essentially ban vaccine passports from the state of Ohio. 

H.R. 248, called the “Vaccine Choice and Anti-discrimination Act,” would allow Ohioans to choose not to take the COVID-19 vaccine, and would allow parents to decide whether their children should take it. It would prevent the state or businesses from discriminating against those who have not taken the vaccine. 

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Royal Caribbean Summer Cruises Will Not Require Vaccination

Miami-based Royal Caribbean, one of America’s largest cruise lines, will resume operations in July, and will not fight the state of Florida on its new law banning vaccine passports. 

Instead, the cruise vacation company recommends that its passengers are vaccinated against COVID-19. 

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DeSantis Press Secretary: Governor Has ‘Earned’ National Spotlight

Ron DeSantis

In response to an Associated Press story that describes Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) as “seizing” the national spotlight, his Press Secretary Christina Pushaw told the Florida Capital Star that the governor has earned his newfound respect among Republicans nationwide. 

“Governor DeSantis has earned the national stage by demonstrating real leadership. For elected officials facing a crisis like COVID-19, it’s tempting to abdicate decision-making power to unelected bureaucrats in public health,” Pushaw said. “Governor DeSantis did the opposite. He sought out expertise from health professionals and scientists, he did his own research, and most importantly, he made decisions that were harshly criticized sometimes, but more than a year on, the data has proven that his approach was the right one.”

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DeSantis Not Backing Down on Cruise Vaccine Passports

After banning vaccine passports from the Sunshine State by law and by executive order, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is now tasked with bringing the cruise ship industry, a proponent of such passports, to heel. 

“We are going to enforce Florida law,” DeSantis said Friday. “I mean, we have Florida law. We have laws that protect the people and the privacy of our citizens, and we are going to enforce it.”

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Gainesville Officials Challenge Prohibition of Vaccine Passports

U.S. Passport with vaccine behind

Gainesville city officials are challenging a future state law, SB 2006, that prohibits local governments, schools, and businesses from requiring individuals to show proof of the COVID-19 vaccination to receive services or allowed entry.

For Gainesville city employees, the city has issued voluntary proof of vaccination, or vaccine passports, so that individuals who show proof can abide by looser CDC guidelines which involve not wearing a mask nor socially distancing for people who are fully vaccinated.

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Gov. Kemp Bans Vaccine Passports in Georgia

Passport

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed an executive order on Tuesday banning the use of vaccine passports throughout the state. 

The order explicitly states that no state agency, provider of state services, or state property is allowed to implement any vaccine passport program or require proof of vaccination in order to enter the premises of a location or conduct business. Additionally, vaccination will not be required to enter the state of Georgia.

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Major Florida Companies Drop Mask Mandates After CDC Announcement

After an announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 are free to gather without masks, several Florida staples have announced they will not require customers to wear masks this summer. 

“Visitors won’t have to wear face masks outdoors at any of Central Florida’s major theme parks, as Universal Orlando, Disney World and SeaWorld relaxed the COVID-19 rule effective Saturday, sparking a mixed reaction among some fans,” The Orlando Sentinel reported Saturday. 

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Michigan House Committee Votes to Ban Vaccine Passports

Passport with COVID Vaccination sheet

The state House Oversight Committee voted Thursday in favor of a bill that would ban vaccine passports, which will now head to the floor of the House for debate. 

House Bill 4667 prohibits “governmental entity from producing, issuing, or providing an incentive for [COVID-19 vaccination passport] under certain circumstances.”

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More Americans Are Living Their Lives, Leaving Masks at Home, Survey Shows

Group of people sitting at public restaurant, eating.

A majority of Americans said for the first time in over a year that returning to their “normal” pre-pandemic lives did not pose a moderate or large health risk, an Axios/Ipsos survey shows.

The survey, released Tuesday, showed just 43% of Americans saying that returning to “normal” posed either a large or moderate risk to their health. It also shows that majorities of Americans have begun to enjoy several aspects of pre-pandemic life: 54% of Americans have eaten at a restaurant, 59% have visited family or friends and 31% have made summer plans – all in the past week alone.

The return to normalcy and the mental health benefits associated with it directly corresponds with the amount of Americans who say they have been vaccinated. Almost two-thirds of respondents say that they have received at least one shot, and 18% say that their emotional well-being has improved in the past week, which the survey notes is an all-time high during the pandemic.

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Florida Takes Feds to Court Over Cruise Ship Restrictions

Cruise ship next to dock

The state of Florida will argue before a federal judge Wednesday that the federal government should not be allowed to interfere with the cruise ship industry, which seeks to get back on its feet after the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent lockdowns. 

“Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, filed the lawsuit last month challenging restrictions imposed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and pointing to the economic impact on the state,” according to a CBS Miami report. “Moody’s office is seeking a preliminary injunction based, in part, on arguments that the CDC overstepped its legal authority in imposing the restrictions.”

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A Majority of Americans Support ‘Vaccine Passports’ for Some Activities, Poll Finds

Photo of two passports in person's hand

A majority of Americans support requiring proof of vaccinations when traveling on planes and attending events with large crowds, a Gallup poll released Friday shows.

The survey found that 57% of Americans supported requiring proof of vaccination on airplanes and that 55% supported requiring proof for events like concerts, shows and live sports. Just 43% and 45% of Americans said they were opposed, respectively.

Majorities of Americans, however, rejected “vaccine passports” for dining at restaurants, going to work and staying in a hotel. Just 40%, 45% and 44% of Americans supported requiring proof of vaccination for each activity.

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Florida House Passes Bill Banning Vaccine Passports

The Republican-controlled Florida House of Representatives Wednesday passed a bill would ban “vaccine passports.”

SB 2006 passed by a vote of 76-40 in the House. It now heads back to the Florida Senate after the House added an amendment. 

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Michigan Lawmaker Aims to Ban ‘Vaccine Passports’

Phone with a QR code on it

One Republican aims to ban “vaccine passports” in a package expected to be introduced Wednesday.

The governors of Florida, Texas, Utah, and Idaho have passed legislation or executive orders prohibiting the use of vaccine passports, while a Minnesota bill aims to do the same.

Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, announced a plan to prohibit a possible vaccine passport plan that would provide proof whether someone is vaccinated for COVID-19.

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Tennessee Senate Committee Approves Amended Bill Making County Health Boards Advisory Only, Prohibiting Vaccine Passports

On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee approved a bill to make county health boards as advisory bodies only, and to prohibit mandatory vaccine passports. The bill was introduced by State Representative John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), and also sponsored by State Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma).

Currently, the components limiting county health boards’ powers and prohibiting vaccine passport mandates aren’t listed as part of the bill. They were introduced as an amendment in the House on Tuesday. Additionally, the bill would relegate local health authority to the state and limit county health officers’ quarantine-mandating powers – individuals and places that aren’t known to have contributed to the spread of a disease may not be quarantined.

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Bill Aims to Ban Minnesota Vaccine Passports

Senator Michelle Benson

As Minnesota returns to a semblance of normalcy with an increasing number of injected COVID-19 vaccines, one Republican aims to ban “vaccine passports.”

 SF 1589 aims to ban forced COVID-19 vaccinations, forced digital contact tracing, and required proof of COVID-19 vaccination before entering a government business.

“Your personal health information should not be made public. I stand against the special interests that want your private health information,” Senate Health Committee Chair Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, posted on Facebook.

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Commentary: Just Say No to Vaccine Passports

We all desperately want normal lives again. And I’m not talking about the finnicky “new normal” that accommodates Aunt Karen’s irrational fear of leaving her house. I’m talking about “normal normal,” where people crowd into concert halls with standing room only, restaurants operate crowded tables at 120 percent capacity, and cruise ship buffets shove food and alcohol down my throat like it’s Fat Tuesday, all day, every day. Ah … don’t you miss 2019? I sure do.

It was only a matter of time before some in our society turned the national COVID experiment into an excuse to say, “Papers, please.” That’s right — the so-called vaccine passport is now emerging in the United States. It’s an app that is advertised as a way to help people do the things they miss doing from pre-pandemic times. Want to feel completely safe in your favorite store, and surround yourself with others who, like you, have rolled up their sleeve and gotten the vaccine? There’s an app for that. Just scan your QR code and enter feeling sanctimoniously sanitized.

Last week, New York became the first state to offer such a vaccine verification app. The state-sanctioned app, called Excelsior Pass, claims to let participants “Attend sporting events, arts performances and more! Excelsior Pass supports a safe reopening of New York by providing a free, fast and secure way to present digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results.” Well that sounds fun to me! Sign me up!

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Group Says Amendment Passed by State Senate Committee to Afford Religious Exemptions to Vaccines in Pandemic Has Been Watered Down

Tennessee lawmakers are keeping their options open when it comes to mandatory vaccinations during a current or imminent pandemic. Although community members and advocacy groups have been fighting for their right to choose when it comes to their medical decisions during government-declared emergencies, most lawmakers haven’t been responsive. 

At the time of press, the amendment hasn’t been uploaded to the General Assembly website. However, The Tennessee Star obtained a copy of the amendment, included below:

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DeSantis to Take Executive Action Against ‘Vaccine Passports’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) vowed that he would issue an executive order forbidding local governments and businesses from requiring “vaccine passports” to show digital or physical proof of vaccination against COVID-19, The Hill reports.

At a news conference, the Florida governor announced he would introduce “an executive function, emergency function” against vaccine passports and requested the Republican state legislature draft a bill forbidding such passports.

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