Will Vaccine Passports Hasten California Exodus?

Will Vaccine Passports Hasten California Exodus?

Orange County is testing a digital vaccine passport, but so far, there’s been no movement at the state level to require all Californians to present their papers to freely move about. Meanwhile, Texas, Florida, and Idaho have banned vaccine passports. Other red states are likely to follow. Should Sacramento decide to demand passports, will it be yet another reason to leave a state that is already losing residents and businesses?

The state has dropped some hints about its intentions with its announcement that by June 15, businesses “may return to usual operations … with limited public health restrictions, such as … testing or vaccination verification requirements for large-scale higher-risk events.” Add to this California’s status as the state that had the strictest lockdown policies, and it’s reasonable to expect policymakers to eventually require proof of immunization.

At least Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley of Rocklin thinks that’s the plan. He’s writing legislation to block passports.

“You shouldn’t have to provide personal health information to go about your daily activities. I think that would be a very dangerous thing, it goes against fundamental notions of privacy and liberty and it’s not a road we want to go down,” he said.

As would be expected in our all-politics-all-the-time era, the lines are drawing themselves over vaccine passports. Some believe they “may help us move past the pandemic,” as J.D. Tuccille of Reason says, but, he adds, there’s also concern they could “add new intrusiveness and frustration to our activities.”

Will Californians who feel frustrated and intruded upon for having to show their papers say “enough” and move Texas, Florida, Idaho, or other states that will ban vaccine passports? The rest of the country is already home to a multitude of former Californians who left the state due to choking taxes, excessive housing and energy costs, poorly performing schools run by teachers unions, overwhelming homelessness, extreme cost of living, near-permanent drought and runaway wildfires, and a creaking infrastructure – all of it rooted in fourth-rate public policy. For some, a mandated certification just might be the policy that breaks them, or as Kiley has tweeted, the “last straw for many Californians.”

Responses (granted, they make up a small sample size) to Kiley’s tweet suggest that for quite a few, the edge is near:

  • “100% spot on. Precisely what I told our (real estate) agent.”
  • “That or permanent mask mandates and we are out of here.”
  • “Absolutely. Saving up to leave.”
  • “With this insanity in California … Plans are ahead of moving out! The ‘golden’ state has a bad ‘spirit.’”
  • “We will fight this, and not comply. Move away, if needed.”
  • “I’m 100% out if that happens.”
  • “As a business owner here in CA, I’m not prepared to leave quite yet. But I want to. And I will.”

Not all agreed with Kiley. Many were critical of his statement and of those who agreed with him or “liked” his comment. But a clear winner emerged from the dark cloud that is almost any Twitter thread on any given day. The man who wrote “pretty sure the last straw should have been the ban on real straws” summed up well a mood that might be behind California’s recall fever.

Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

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