A bill that would prohibit employers from microchipping their employees as a condition of employment passed out of the Arkansas House on Thursday. HB1177 by Rep. Stephen Meeks (R – Greenbrier) was approved by the full House body by a vote of 84-4-0.
Meeks assured fellow lawmakers this is not a “mark of the beast” bill, but just the opposite.
According to Meeks, the bill is designed to get ahead of technological changes that have occurred in Europe where some employers are requiring their employees to have a microchip implanted. The implanted chips are used similar to scan cards employees use to access a building or purchase a meal.
Under the legislation an employer may have a microchip implanted in their employee ONLY if the employee agrees to do so in writing.
Meeks addressed some concerns over the bill after some news reports headlines seemed to indicate required implantation of microchips was coming. Meeks clarified that the bill did the exact opposite and was an employee protection bill.
Meeks commented that “This technology is coming to our state whether we want it to or not. The question is if we are going to be proactive or reactive.”
Meeks mentioned a company in Wisconsin that has microchipped 80 employees recently as an example of the technology that is coming. Five other states are considering similar legislation according to Meeks.
Rep. Meeks broke down the legislation into four parts:
- Employee has right to refuse for any reason to get a microchip. A written agreement between the employer and employee is required to have a microchip implanted.
- Employer must disclose information on the microchip and what that information is used for.
- At any point an employee can have the microchip removed.
- When an employee leaves, the employer will remove the microchip or employee can sign an affidavit to leave it in.
Meeks expects to make a few amendments when the bill gets to the Senate. These include adding co-sponsors and changing the name of the bill so it is not confusing to people on the intent of the bill.
Some questions from fellow legislators resolved around concerns of the use of microchipping. Meeks clarified that the bill just seeks to provide employee protections against being fired for refusing to have a microchip implanted.
Rep. Jack Ladyman (R- Jonesboro) spoke in favor of the bill urging his colleagues to support the bill saying that the bill is an employee protection bill and is getting ahead of the curve on technology.
The bill now goes to the Senate side and will require passage there and a final signature by the Governor before becoming law.