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Senate approves less restrictive COVID-19 vaccine employer mandate bill

The Senate passed the controversial COVID-19 vaccine employer mandate bill, potentially setting up a showdown with the House over the bill’s final form.
Brandon Smith
/
IPB News
The Senate passed the controversial COVID-19 vaccine employer mandate bill, potentially setting up a showdown with the House over the bill’s final form.

The Senate passed the controversial COVID-19 vaccine employer mandate bill Tuesday, though it’s significantly less restrictive than the original House version.

The biggest change the Senate made to HB 1001 involves religious exemptions to getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The House version forced businesses to grant those exemptions, no matter what. Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) said the Senate version doesn’t – it just requires employers to consider religious exemptions like they do now, following federal law.

“The employer could say, 'Well, you didn’t ask for it any other time. Why are you asking for it now?'" Messmer said. "They could question it; they could reject it.”

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

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues. Trying to follow along with our coverage of the legislative session? We've compiled all the stories our reporters have published by bill number and topic here.

But even though the bill is less restrictive on employers than the original version, Sen. Chip Perfect (R-Lawrenceburg) said it’s unnecessary. He called the measure “illogical” and “legislative arrogance.”

“We think we know better how to manage the relationship between an employer and an employee?” Perfect said.

The House must now decide whether to accept the Senate’s changes or take the bill to conference committee for further negotiations.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org 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.