After signing the legislation, Reynolds said in a statement
that the new law allows Iowans “freedoms and their abilities to make healthcare decisions based on what’s best for themselves and their families.”
President Joe Biden imposed stringent new vaccine rules on federal workers
, large employers and health care staff in September in a sweeping attempt to contain the coronavirus. The new rules included an executive order requiring all government employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, with no option of being regularly tested to opt out, and an accompanying order directing that the same standard be applied to employees of contractors who do business with the federal government. The requirements have received pushback and legislative action from a handful of Republican governors, with Reynolds the most recent.
“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,” Reynolds said.
The new law also states that an employer requiring a vaccine “must waive the requirement if the employee, or, if the employee is a minor, the employee’s parent or legal guardian, requests a waiver and makes either of two submissions to the employer.” Those submissions include being unable to take the vaccine for health or religious reasons.
The bill passed the Iowa House by 68-27, then went to the state Senate, which advanced it to the governor’s desk for approval after a 45-4 vote.
Reynolds is the latest Republican governor to push back against the federal vaccine mandates, joining Govs. Kay Ivey of Alabama, Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida.
Ivey on Monday signed an executive order
instructing state executive branch agencies to cooperate with the Alabama attorney general’s office as it challenges the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates and, when possible, to not comply with the federal effort.
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