Iowa employees can seek exemptions from COVID-19 vaccinations for medical and religious reasons, and those fired for refusing the vaccine will be guaranteed unemployment benefits under a bill approved Thursday by the Iowa Legislature.
The bill was published just minutes before lawmakers gathered for a special meeting called to consider the issue of redistributing constituencies.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has called for legislative action on vaccine requirements. She opposed government demands for masks and vaccines, although COVID-19 has killed nearly 7,000 people in Iowa, and medical science has shown both tools to be effective in reducing the spread of the virus.
After the bill was passed, Reynolds said she plans to sign it, calling it “an important step forward in protecting the freedoms of Iowa residents and their ability to make health decisions based on what is best for themselves and their families.”
More than 100 people opposing vaccination demands gathered outside the Capitol to push for tougher language, and business lobbyists said the bill, as it was drafted, puts business owners at odds with complying with federal directives and laws. state.
“This is a terrible business situation and it doesn’t solve the problem you’re trying to solve,” said JD Davis, vice president of public policy for the Iowa Business and Industry Association during a public comment on the bill committee hearing.
Businesses have also been worried about rising unemployment costs if thousands of workers become eligible due to vaccine abandonment and job loss.
Democrat MP Mary Masher noted the thousands killed by the coronavirus in Iowa, many in nursing homes and institutions where unvaccinated workers carried the virus inside.
“We are not trying to harm anyone. We are trying to save lives and the medical community is helping us in this effort, ”she said.
Congressman Bobby Kaufmann defended the bill, stating that it will help people in his area and “on Monday people will not be fired because of the bill’s expiration date, so for them I want this bill passed.”