Arkansas lawmakers approve ban on vaccine passports, local mask mandates

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LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers on Tuesday gave initial approval to measures prohibiting requiring proof of coronavirus vaccination to access services and governments imposing mask mandates similar to one recently lifted by the state.

The majority-Republican Senate approved by a 23-8 vote a ban on governments or private entities requiring “passport vaccines” in order to access goods or services. Federal officials have said there is no plan to require them broadly, but some Republican governors have issued orders preventing businesses or agencies from mandating them.

The majority-Republican House, meanwhile, approved a separate measure that would prohibit state agencies or local governments from imposing mask mandates. GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson last month lifted the state’s mask requirement, but said cities could continue enforcing them. The cities of Little Rock and Fayetteville have imposed their own mask requirements.