The Journal Gazette
Friday, January 14, 2022 1:00 am

General Assembly

House GOP rejects changing virus bill

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – House Republicans voted down several amendments Thursday on a bill that would pave the way to end the public health emergency and effectively gut COVID-19 employer vaccine mandates.

Twenty-nine amendments were filed on House Bill 1001 – several by established members of the House Republican caucus. But after a private meeting, none of those were offered, meaning the caucus overruled them.

Several of those amendments would have banned employer vaccine mandates completely and prohibited discriminating against someone based on vaccine status.

Two House Republicans who don't caucus with their colleagues did offer their amendments.

Rep. Curt Nisly, R-Milford, tried to eliminate part of the bill that changes state law so that Indiana can still receive additional federal Medicaid and food stamp benefits as well as continue offering mass vaccination clinics for kids.

These items were identified by Gov. Eric Holcomb as necessary to have in place before he would end the public health emergency.

“As a coequal branch, we do not have to give in to the governor's demands,” Nisly said.

Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, the author of the bill, said the amendment would cost the state $369 million. It was defeated 83-5.

Another amendment offered by Rep. John Jacob, R-Indianapolis, would have allowed people to sue if someone infringed on their bodily autonomy. No vote was taken after it was ruled a violation of House rules.

One amendment that was accepted was from Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington. It removed a provision having to do with unemployment penalties against a business if a person is fired for not being vaccinated.

House Bill 1001 will get a full House vote Tuesday. It doesn't ban employer vaccine mandates completely but says businesses must accept medical and religious exemptions without question.

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