Iowa governor signs vaccine mandate exemption bill

Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 5:55 PM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KTIV) - Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed into law a bill that requires businesses to allow employees to seek medical and religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

It also guarantees that employees who are denied exemptions and are fired due to their decision not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for unemployment benefits.

Related: Gov. Ricketts orders state agencies not to follow vaccine mandates

The Republican governor opposes mask and vaccine requirements, and called for legislative action on such mandates. The bill was introduced Thursday and passed by the Iowa Senate and House.

“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,” said Gov. Reynolds in a press release.

Republicans insisted the bill will help workers keep their jobs but Democrats complained it has no enforcement or penalties for companies that fire workers anyway. They supported it because it does guarantee workers unemployment.

“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,” said Reynolds.

In a release, Reynolds said this “is only the first step” and Iowa will be taking other legal actions against vaccine mandates set by the Biden Administration.

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