The new law makes an exception to the rules for individuals who claim religious or medical exemptions from COVID-19 vaccination requirements. The Iowa House and Senate passed the bill on Thursday, Oct. 28.
“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,” the Republican governor said in a statement on her website. (Related: COVID vaccine: A complete failure.)
Reynolds said no Iowan should be forced to lose their job or livelihood over the COVID-19 vaccine. “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.”
The Iowa governor stressed that the law is only the first step to push back against federal overreach. “This is only the first step. We will be taking other legal actions against the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate,” she said.
Reynolds said Iowa was also against the Biden administration’s requirement that all workers employed by a federal contractor be vaccinated.
“Today, I’m announcing that the state of Iowa is joining a federal lawsuit to challenge President [Joe] Biden’s unprecedented use of the government to force every employee of every federal contractor in America, including thousands of Iowans, to take a vaccine against their wishes,” she said. “As long as I am governor, the state of Iowa will always stand alongside Iowans and to be sure their freedoms are protected.”
According to the Daily Iowan, Biden’s vaccine mandate for contractors “‘pits Americans against Americans and it will only worsen the workforce shortage and supply chain issues that hinder economic recovery.”
“Employers don’t want to fire their employees here in the state of Iowa,” Republican state Rep. Henry Stone said. “They’re struggling to hire people in the first place, and this bill now allows employers to keep their workforce by accepting medical and religious exemptions.”
Opposition against Biden’s vaccine mandate grows
Biden’s mandate to vaccinate millions of Americans in the workforce is being met with considerable opposition. Last September, Biden instructed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to begin writing rules that would require companies of 100 or more employees to either require vaccines or test employees once a week.
“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said.
Private business owners are now trying unconventional methods to at least stall the mandate. Business owners and critics are using the lobbying method in attempts to slow down the policy process, according to Reuters.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Eric Conn, who met with Biden officials on behalf of the Employers COVID-19 Prevention Coalition.
Normally, lobbying is used in Washington so that powerful and well-connected groups can meet with senior policy analysts in order to gain political advantage for interested parties. But in this case, it’s simply individual critics who are scheduling meetings with policy analysts to voice their opposition. This is highly unusual for individuals to get involved in lobbying like this.
“It’s generally the province of Washington lobbyists,” Rutgers University professor Stuart Shapiro said.
Along with big businesses, Republican governors and officials have voiced their opposition. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott already issued an executive order that will not allow any entity to mandate vaccines.
When Biden first announced his plan to mandate the vaccine in businesses, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster immediately spoke out against it. “Biden and the radical Democrats [have] thumbed their noses at the Constitution,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Republican attorneys general from 24 states sent a letter to Biden in opposition of his vaccine mandate. (Related: Now 27 states are fighting Biden’s aggressive COVID-19 vaccine mandate.)
“Your plan is disastrous and counterproductive. From a policy perspective, this edict is unlikely to win hearts and minds — it will simply drive further skepticism. And at least some Americans will simply leave the job market instead of complying,” they wrote in the letter.
“This will further strain an already-too-tight labor market, burdening companies and threatening the jobs of even those who have received a vaccine. Worse still, many of those who decide to leave their jobs rather than follow your directive will be essential healthcare workers.”
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