Indiana Senate backs narrower bill on vaccine limitations

Photo Supplied / Indiana Statehouse

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Senate has endorsed a bill allowing administrative steps sought by Gov. Eric Holcomb that could result in the nearly two-year-old statewide COVID-19 public health emergency declaration ending later this week.

Senators voted 32-18 on Tuesday in favor of the proposal that doesn’t include provisions pushed by Republican House members that would force businesses to give requested religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine requirements “without further inquiry.”

Holcomb and Senate GOP leaders have sided with major business groups opposing the broad limitations backed by House members as wrongly interfering in business decisions.

The Senate version would require businesses to grant medical vaccine exemptions to workers along with religious exemptions as required by federal law and mandate that employers accept as a vaccine exemption a worker’s medical test results showing some level of “natural immunity” through a previous infection. Employees could be required to undergo COVID-19 tests up to twice a week.

The actions sought by Holcomb would allow the state to keep receiving enhanced federal funding for Medicaid and food assistance programs.

The House and Senate must still agree on a single version of the proposal before it could go to Holcomb for his consideration.

Republican House Speaker Todd Huston, however, said last week that “you can count on it” when asked whether lawmakers would approve a bill addressing the emergency declaration before the current order’s Friday expiration.

 

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