PROVIDENCE – Rep. David Place refused to comply with the requirement that attendees at a redistricting hearing on Thursday, Sept. 30 submit either proof of vaccination or a negative test COVID-19, and did not attend the hearing, instead issuing a statement against the mandates.
A Republican representing District 47 in Burrillville and Glocester, Place said he believes members of the General Assembly should not have to submit personal medical information, and that the requirement amounted to denial of access to participate in a meeting of the Reapportionment Commission, held at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Newport campus.
“My concerns regarding vaccine passport mandates are well documented in my public comments, in anti-vax passport legislation I submitted, and in bipartisan anti-vax passport legislation I co-sponsored,” Place said later in a statement. “There are many alternative locations to facilitate this important discussion that do not require this unprecedented mandate.”
“I believe that members of the General Assembly should not be required to provide personal medical information, and/or submit to a medical test, as a prerequisite to fulfilling their constitutional duties,” Place added. “At no other time during my public service have I been asked to provide medical records or testing to participate in the legislative process. Once this precedent is set, we will greatly endanger the power of the legislative branch by decreasing our ability to represent those we serve –our constituents.”
Place is one of three Republicans from northern Rhode Island named to the 12-member redistricting commission, expected to redraw Rhode Island’s political boundaries in the upcoming months.
“Another concern I share with others on the commission, is that the vaccine passport requirements disproportionately impact certain identified communities, both on a municipal basis and demographic basis,” Place said. “These disparate impacts apply directly to the community of Newport where fewer than 55 percent of residents have been fully vaccinated.”
“This means that 45 percent of Newport residents cannot participate in the public hearing without first submitting to a medical test, where accuracy is questionable at best and from which a false positive can result in a complete disruption of an individual’s life,” Place said.