116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES --- Businesses in Iowa would not be allowed to require their employees to receive vaccinations --- for COVID-19, the measles or any other disease --- nor would they be allowed to require their patrons to wear face coverings under state legislation proposed Tuesday.
The bill has been introduced by Iowa Rep. Jon Jacobsen, R-Council Bluffs, and is supported by Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, who chairs the House committee on state government.
“We’re certainly not anti-vax. We’re just for medical freedom,” Jacobsen said during a news conference at the Iowa Capitol.
Kaufmann presented the proposal in a similar light. He said he believes Iowans should be free to get the COVID-19 vaccine if they choose, but said Iowans should not be required to get it.
“We are pushing medical freedom,” Kaufmann said. “That’s what the crux of the bill is. … Hopefully this thing can become law.”
Infectious disease and public health experts have said the COVID-19 vaccines are the best tool to reducing the impact of the pandemic, which is nearing its two-year anniversary in Iowa. Some businesses --- particularly in the health care industry, like hospitals --- are already requiring their workers to receive the virus vaccine.
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and other GOP legislative leaders, who have agenda-setting majorities in the Iowa Legislature, said earlier Tuesday that they believe it is prudent to await court decisions on several challenges to federal vaccine mandates before state lawmakers begin pursuing state-level legislation.
Reynolds, House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, and Senate Majority Whip Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, discussed potential vaccine mandate legislation at a legislative preview forum hosted by the Iowa Capitol Press Association.
“I think we need to wait,” Reynolds said.
Jacobsen said he believes that time will arrive sooner than later anyway, that the courts will soon rule on those federal mandates.
The mandates proposed by Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration, which are being challenged in the courts, would require all health care workers, all federal contractors and all workers at businesses with more than 100 employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or else be tested regularly.
Jacobsen said his proposed legislation would not impact schools, which he said would still be allowed to require some vaccinations as they do already for young students.
The 2022 session of the Iowa Legislature begins Monday.