The bill makes sure employees who are denied medical and religious exemptions from vaccine mandates will be protected under state law and eligible for the same benefits as others who lose their jobs under normal conditions.
“I believe we have found a meaningful solution to protect Iowans and Iowa businesses from the Biden administration’s extreme government overreach,” Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, a Republican, said in a statement.
The bill already passed the state Senate in a 45-4 vote. The state House approved it in a 68-27 vote, and now Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to sign it.
Some Republicans argued the bill didn’t go far enough in protecting workers from vaccine mandates.
“There’s no repercussions to bad actions by employers,” said state Rep. Jon Jacobsen. “It doesn’t discourage any future improper mandates.”
Jacbosen and several other Iowa Republicans wanted a bill similar to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s executive order, which forbids all businesses from mandating the COVID-19 vaccines. Under the order, any business that imposes a vaccine mandate on its employees is subject to a hefty fine.
DeSantis has already begun to enforce this order. Earlier this month, he fined Leon County more than $3 million because it required all of its employees to get vaccinated.
“It is unacceptable that Leon County violated Florida law, infringed on current and former employees’ medical privacy, and fired loyal public servants because of their personal health decisions,” DeSantis said in a statement.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also recently signed an executive order banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The next step, he said, is getting the Texas state legislature to codify the order.
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said in a statement.