LATEST: Iowa Gov. Reynolds Signs Bill Allowing Employees To Escape Work Covid Mandates
LATEST: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed a bill that would allow employees to escape employer covid mandates, including vaccination mandates, and allow greater use of medical and religious exemptions for people to refuse covid restrictions.
On Friday night, Reynolds signed the bill, which the Iowa House and Senate had passed Thursday. It makes it tougher for businesses to
require employees to be vaccinated or submit to other covid protocols such as regular testing. The bill gives greater leeway for employees to claim medical and religious exemptions against covid employer mandates and guarantees that employees who do get fired for refusing to get vaccinated against covid are allowed to file for unemployment insurance.
“I am proud to sign this bipartisan piece of legislation today,” Reynolds said in a statement Friday night. “This is a major step forward in protecting Iowans’ freedoms and their abilities to make healthcare decisions based on what’s best for themselves and their families. This legislation also gives employees the assurance that they will still receive unemployment benefits despite being fired for standing up for their beliefs. As I’ve stated publicly numerous times, I believe the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19 and we’ve provided Iowans with the information they need to determine what’s best for themselves and their families, but no Iowan should be forced to lose their job or livelihood over the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I believe the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19, but no one should be forced to choose between making a living or standing up for their personal beliefs.”
This comes on the same day that a bill has been given to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker to sign which would take away some moral and other objections to following covid protocols and vaccination mandates, and would allow Illinois employers to require employees to take part in covid mandates. It would also allow punitive action up to firing if the employees do not comply with the business’ requirements.
The Health Care Right of Conscience Act amendment bans employees from using their moral beliefs as a reason to refuse to comply with a workplace’s covid mandates, which could include mandatory vaccinations.
The new amendment now heads to Gov. JB Pritzker to be signed into the law, and it certainly looks as if it will be, given his statement released Thursday night.
“We have effective tools to fight this pandemic — namely, vaccines, masks and testing — and all of our communities are safer when we use the public health and workplace safety protocols we know to work,” said Pritzker in a statement. “This legislation clarifies existing law’s intent without infringing on federal protections. Ultimately, this means we can keep kids in school, businesses open, neighbors safe, and continue on the path to bring this pandemic to an end.”
If Pritkzer signs it, the new rules would be put into place starting June 1, 2022.
For ongoing coverage of this situation, continue to follow QuadCities.com.