State Republicans discussing legislation to stop companies from requiring vaccines during special session

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 9:58 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - State lawmakers are talking about adding possible legislation to an already planned special session to stop private businesses requiring employees to get COVID-19 vaccines.

State lawmakers are already going back to Des Moines later this year for redistricting because of a delay in census data from the United States Census Bureau. Lawmakers could add other bills to the session, including giving protections to employees who are choosing to not get vaccinated.

More than 100 people gathered outside the Iowa State Capitol Saturday to rally against mandates requiring people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, such as the ones Trinity Health issued. The healthcare provider mandated employees for some MercyOne hospitals and clinics to be vaccinated or lose their jobs.

Trinity Memo to Employees by Adam Carros on Scribd

17 Republican state lawmakers responded in an open letter, questioning their policy, on July 21. Some of those lawmakers believe the health provider’s policy violated a person’s ability to choose to get vaccinated. Rep. Terry Baxter (R-Hancock County) said he believes the letter will start a dialogue with Trinity Health, which he hopes will change its policy without legislative action. However, he and other statehouse republicans told TV9 they would look at legislation solutions if there were no changes.

State Sen. Dennis Guth (R-Klemme) said he would like to discuss stoping private businesses from requiring employees get vaccinated at a special session. But, he said he doesn’t know if he has the votes to enact legislation.

“I don’t think everyone is going to agree on it,” Guth said. But, I don’t think it’s right to just float along without having some input.”

According to the National Academy for State Health Policy, which is a nonpartisan health policy think-tank, Iowa could become the sixth state to provide vaccine discrimination protections to employees. However, most of those laws provide protections to specific employees. Only Montana’s law protects all employees from being discriminated against because of their vaccination status.

At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that fewer than half of Iowans are fully vaccinated. Democrats said the State Health Board could give recommendations on how to improve those numbers. But, it can’t meet since the state health board doesn’t have enough members. Gov. Kim Reynolds hasn’t appointed replacements.

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