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Lawmakers to hear testimony Thursday on COVID-19 vaccine mandate legislation

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Indiana House lawmakers will take testimony Thursday – for the second time in about three weeks – on a bill that would effectively ban private companies from enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

And the politics at play behind the measure, HB 1001, are a bit tricky.

The people advocating loudest against vaccine mandates – and who are generally in favor of the bill – traditionally support Republicans. But the state’s business community also usually backs the GOP and top businesses are lining up against the legislation.

Andrew Downs, Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics director, said there’s been a push-and-pull between those two sides for a while.

“The Republican Party historically has been the pro-business party and they certainly still fall into that category … but over the last several years, they have begun to focus quite a bit on individuals and individualism,” Downs said.

READ MORE: Faith, medicine and COVID-19: Why do religious vaccine exemptions exist?

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Downs said a major factor at play here is that with uncompetitive general election races, Republican lawmakers have to worry most about primaries and so must appease particularly conservative voters.

“Those of us who are sort of on the inside, we’ve heard stories about some of the more conservative members of the Republican caucus actually going out and recruiting candidates,” Downs said.

House Republicans are expected to move quickly to pass the bill once session begins in January.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.