Indiana Senate Republican leadership picked apart a delayed bill to protect workers from mandated Covid-19 vaccinations– they even pulled out its heart, religious exception employees testified they required to maintain their work.
The Republican-led Senate has actually been no friend to protecting Indianans from medical coercion, having failed to place vaccine safeguards in place for more than a year as Hoosiers bled jobs. The House, discouraged with the Senate’s delay in moving forward with significant defenses, forged ahead with regulations anyhow. They made H.B. 1001 their priority for 2022.
The House bill allowed for clinical, religious, and also natural immunity exemptions from the vaccine mandates, in addition to an option for regular testing instead of giving an exemption. Worker-friendly steps were included, also, like limiting the testing of workers to as little as weekly and also not making sure they don’t have to pay for the tests.
When the House bill went across over to the Senate, Majority Leader Mark Messmer, a Republican, was called the bill’s sponsor. With a person so high in Senate leadership on the bill, it was believed he had the power to either carry or kill the bill. He chose to kill it.
With Republicans Like These, Who Needs Democrats?
The Senate variation of the regulations, introduced in committee, strips the bill of any useful worker protections. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce claimed companies need to be enabled to force employees into medical decisions, and also the Senate appeared to revise the legislation to fit them.
The Senate altered your home’s costs so substantially that those who showed up to oppose the legislation– the chamber and the Indiana Manufacturers Association– seriously switched sides mid-hearing. Medical freedom advocates, on the other hand, also reversed positions, saying they would no longer sustain H.B. 1001. As one supporter put it, the chamber seems “to believe that employers have more rights to their employees’ bodies than the employees have themselves.”
The most destructive change to the bill influenced the religious exemption. The House’s version included a strong religious exemption, which said employees can obtain a religious exception without additional inquiry. The Senate removed that and said religious exemptions would be limited to government protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
This was an outright tone-deaf action by the Senate. The General Assembly heard more than 17 hrs of testimony on H.B. 1001, during which employees with religious exemptions informed lawmakers they had actually lost their jobs regardless of those declared federal protections.
Indiana Senate Cowardice Harms Hoosiers
Robin Clark, who indicated before the General Assembly three times, told me she was terminated from her job as a process designer for Eli Lilly and Co. for “misconduct– insubordination” regardless of a doctor-validated medical exception, a request for a religious exception, and also evidence of natural immunity. She stated she missed the religious exception due date, just due to the fact that she did not anticipate her medical exemption to be refuted.
“I stated to them that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects my religious freedom every day of the year, not just until some arbitrarily set company deadline. The company still just stated that it was past their deadline,” Clark said. “I went from being a high-performing engineer one day to being unemployed the next.” Eli Lilly refused to comment.
While the Senate weakened the bill in many methods– from increasing the number of tests firms might require per week to minimizing the natural immunity window from 6 months to 3– lowering the state religious exemption was the death blow.
Why Did Senate Leadership Throw In The Towel?
Republican Sen. Blake Doriot, at the prompting of myself and others, consented to write as well as promote a modification to return the House’s original strong religious exception language back into the bill. Hours prior to the bill being scheduled to be heard, we validated we had adequate Republicans to pass it. But the bill came and went without the amendment being called. Doriot stated he was incapable of bringing the procedure to the floor based upon Senate rules– rules he stated “failed a great portion of the Hoosier population.”
With an amendment author and a bulk of Republicans on board, it was clear that the only people that still had the power to block the amendment were Senate leadership. Leadership consisted of Senate President Pro Tempore Rod Bray, Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Travis Holdman, and Messmer, both majority leader and the bill’s sponsor.
Possibly what was most offensive and also scandalous regarding the scenario was exactly how top Republicans protected interests of the Chamber of Commerce over the religious and medical freedom of their constituents. Religious liberty, so commonly accepted by the political right, was entirely cast aside. As a result of what happened with his amendment, Doriot removed his name as a Senate sponsor of H.B. 1001.
While pressure on the legislature to move vaccine protections forward has been minimized because the Supreme Court stopped President Joe Biden’s employee vaccine mandate from moving forward, Indiana’s passage of a meaningful bill– as well as a fortified religious exemption– is still crucial, because some Indiana companies continue to compel vaccines on their workers.
The bill will currently go to conference committee, where the House and Senate versions of the bill will be resolved. There, House bill author Rep. Matt Lehman will ideally have the chance to rebuild the religious exemption to its former effect.
H/T The Federalist