Lawmakers Formally Introduce Law to Limit Commercial Vaccine Mandates

More than 50 Republicans from Indiana House have signed a bill tabled for the 2022 legislative session that would restrict employers’ COVID-19 vaccine mandates and put in place measures to end the order. statewide public health emergency.

Bill House 1001 was the first bill tabled on Monday for the legislative session that begins Jan. 4, signaling that it is likely a high priority for the GOP leadership.

That’s almost the exact text of the bill that Republican leaders were initially expected to pass in a one-day fast-track session scheduled for Monday. Those plans were scrapped after the measure met with backlash during a seven-hour public hearing.

HB 1001 would effectively force private employers who mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for employees to allow any medical or religious exemptions – no questions asked.

It would also put in place the three administrative measures, according to Governor Eric Holcomb, necessary to end the state-wide emergency public health order in force since March 2020, including ensuring the continuation of the federal reimbursements for SNAP and Medicaid benefits.

The main difference between this bill and the bill introduced last week is that the wording of the medical exemption specifically for “pregnancy or anticipated pregnancy” has been removed from the text.

Representative Matt Lehman, R-Bern, is the author of the bill, and 55 other Republican lawmakers, including Speaker of the House Todd Huston, R-Fishers, have signed on as co-authors.

“This proposal covers the three elements requested by the executive as a condition of lifting the state of emergency, while strengthening the rights of individual workers throughout Indiana,” Lehman said in a written statement Monday. “I will continue to work with employers, employees, heads of state and stakeholders to ensure that the final form of this legislation leads to the end of the state of emergency, protects our rights and also helps the State to manage the pandemic. ”

The bill drew backlash from businesses and medical communities during the first public testimony, saying it went too far. Opponents of vaccines, however, said he had not done enough to stop vaccination mandates.

Some of the state’s largest trade associations, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Manufacturers Association, and Indiana Restaurant and Accommodation Association, all opposed the proposal’s restrictions on companies requiring vaccines. They also had a problem with the language that would require employers to cover the cost of regular testing, if offered as an alternative to an employee who does not want to be vaccinated.

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar said at the time that while the proposed measures do not ban vaccination mandates, they could discourage employers from implementing a vaccine mandate. . One of the House’s top legislative priorities for the 2022 session is to enable employers to make decisions about whether to require the COVID-19 vaccine, without government intervention.

Brinegar did not immediately respond to calls from IBJ on Tuesday, after the bill was officially tabled.

House Democrats have said they support legislation to maintain federal funding if Holcomb does not renew the public health emergency. But adding the wording of the vaccine mandate to the same bill holds federal benefits hostage and “undermines the good intentions of the legislation,” Democratic House Leader Phil GiaQuinta said in a statement. last week.

GiaQuinta did not immediately respond to IBJ for a request for comment on Tuesday.

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