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Future Of COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Exemptions Bill Is Unclear

Oct 7, 2021

House Commerce and Labor Committee holds informal hearings for HB435.
Credit Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau

It's now up to House Republican leaders on what to do next with a bill that grants exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The legislation would allow students and employees in the public and private sector to opt out of the shot if they don't want it by creating broad exemptions that could be claimed by anyone. But legislators say it's important to tackle the subject with accurate information.

Lawmakers, mostly Democrats, interjected during witness testimony several times during the last two days of hearings for the bill.

That includes Juanita Brent, who says people cannot make good decisions on bad information that they are likely to on social media. 

"Things have to be called out to say that's not correct. When we look at our authority we have to look at what the CDC is putting out or what the World Health Organization is putting out, those are our subject matter experts when it comes to the pandemic."

While the science shows the COVID vaccines are safe, Republican leaders are looking for a consensus for the bill. But their own caucus ranges from legislators wanting a ban on all vaccine mandates to others wanting to allow businesses and individuals to make their own decisions.