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Rhode Island Democrats Move to Double State Income Taxes on Unvaccinated Residents

Photo: Rhode Island Democrats Move to Double State Income Taxes on Unvaccinated Residents
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

Democrat lawmakers in Rhode Island have introduced a bill that would coerce state residents to be injected with a COVID-19 vaccine or face the penalties of a monthly fine and double their payments on state income taxes.

On April 18 Rhode Island State Sen. Sam Bell (D) cited a recent poll that claimed 64 percent of state residents said everyone should be required to be vaccinated.

“Cases are rising again,” he tweeted. “Surrender isn’t working.”

In an article published April 13, the New York Times noted Rhode Island has the highest rate of vaccinated residents in the country, with 95% of individuals of all eligible ages having gotten at least one shot.

Bell joined with other Rhode Island Democrats to approve statewide mandates that would severely penalize residents who choose not to get vaccinated.

“The Senator’s proposed legislation mandates covid-19 vaccination for children, in addition to adults,” wrote Dr. Andrew Bostrom, a Brown University credentialed epidemiologist, at the Ocean State Current.

“Blind pediatric covid-19 vaccine zealotry is epitomized by Rhode Island State Senator Sam Bell’s punitively mandatory vaccination bill,” Bostrom added.

Legal Insurrection observed Rhode Island mom Laurie Gaddis Barrett drew parents’ attention to the bill on Twitter:

Barrett appeared on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight several days later to discuss the legislation:

From Fox News Channel Tucker Carlson Tonight

S 2552 states:

(a) Every person of at least sixteen (16) years of age who is eligible for immunization against COVID-19 and who resides in the State of Rhode Island, works in the State of Rhode Island, or pays personal income taxes to the State of Rhode Island pursuant to chapter 30 of title 44 shall be required to be immunized against COVID-19.

(b) Every resident of Rhode Island eligible for immunization against COVID-19 who is under sixteen (16) years of age or under guardianship shall be required to be immunized against COVID-19, with the responsibility for ensuring compliance falling on all parents or guardians with medical consent powers pursuant to § 23-4.6-1.

(c) The director of the department of health shall, through regulation, promulgate standards for immunization against COVID-19. Such standards shall:

(1) Exempt any person who has been eligible for immunization against COVID-19 for fewer than forty (40) days, due to federal or state requirements or availability of doses;

(2) Require all eligible doses within a multiple dose immunization series, with the requirement for each dose taking effect forty (40) days after a person becomes eligible to receive said dose;

(3) Require any additional immunizations against COVID-19 as may become available and may be determined by the director of the department of health to be in the interest of public health; and

(4) Provide for the exemption of any person who has demonstrated good faith to achieve full immunization by having received one or more doses of a multiple dose immunization series and having scheduled and not missed an appointment to receive the next dose in the multiple dose immunization series.

The penalties for not fulfilling the mandates are as follows, according to the legislation:

(e) Any person who violates this chapter shall be required to pay a monthly civil penalty of fifty dollars ($50.00) and shall owe twice the amount of personal income taxes as would otherwise be assessed pursuant to chapter 30 of title 44. All employers must require proof of compliance with this chapter for any employee employed in in-person work within the State of Rhode Island. Employers may choose to waive proof of compliance with this chapter for purely remote work. Any employer found to be knowingly in violation of this section for more than seven (7) days shall be required to pay a monthly civil penalty of five thousand dollars ($5,000) for every violation.

If signed into law, the measure would penalize parents with monthly fines and double payments of income taxes for children under the age of 16 who are not vaccinated.

The process for applying for an exemption appears designed to encourage residents to avoid the trouble and simply comply with the government mandate.

Residents seeking exemption must provide petitions signed and notarized by three licensed physicians who state the individual is not able to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine for medical reasons. Subsequently, the Rhode Island Department of Health is empowered to investigate and possibly reject the request for exemption.

“There is little to no scientific justification for COVID vaccine mandates,” asserted the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) about the Rhode Island measure.

The doctors’ organization continued:

Especially during the latest waves, vaccines do not meaningfully reduce transmission of COVID. Not to mention, that especially in pediatric and adolescent patients, there is growing evidence the shots may do more harm than good. European nations are even rolling back COVID vaccination recommendations for kids. And even the CDC now admits: “The majority of Americans — nearly 60% of U.S. adults and nearly 75% of adolescents — have antibodies that indicate prior COVID-19 coronavirus infection.” The fact that prior COVID offers similar immunity as vaccination is further evidence against any benefit of a COVID vaccine mandate.

“To put it more plainly, Senator Bell’s bill is unethical and not evidenced based,” AAPS stated.

In a letter to her constituents, Rhode Island Senate Minority Whip Jessica de la Cruz (R) referred to the bill as an “unconscionable overreach of legislative powers”:

I have not, nor will I ever support, legislation that coerces Rhode Islanders into making medical decisions or face steep financial damages. I hear my constituents and others around the state loud and clear—this is dangerous legislation and sends the message that our government doesn’t trust you to make the right choice for you and your family. This is an unconscionable overreach of legislative powers. The good news is this legislation has little chance of passing. I won’t rule it out, but I don’t believe it will pass, that said, I’m not taking it for granted, and neither should you. 

As KHOU 11 News reported, Bell claims he and his family are now being threatened by “antivax advocates” since he introduced the legislation.

The Providence Journal also noted Bell’s Democrat colleagues, State Sens. Frank Lombardi and John Burke, removed their names from the bill.

Rhode Island residents can reach their state lawmakers to urge them to oppose S 2552 here.

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This content is for educational and discussion purposes. Any treatment undertaken in terms of COVID (or any illness) should be discussed with a licensed medical professional.

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