The Arkansas state legislature just passed a measure that will require employers to allow their employees to opt out of getting vaccinated for COVID-19, Newsmax reports.
The legislation comes in response to President Joe Biden’s latest vaccine mandate, which requires employers with more than 100 employees to force their workers to get the shot — or pair of shots — against the coronavirus.
The Arkansas bill would allow employees to undergo weekly testing for COVID-19 instead, or to prove that they already have coronavirus antibodies. Either option would allow the employee to forego vaccination.
Whether the bill will actually become law, however, remains to be seen.
“Out on the streets”
Those who support the bill do so, in part, because it gives employees another option besides just getting vaccinated or losing their job.
“You want to take people that are willing to show up to work, you want to take people that have stuck with you through this entire mess called COVID, and now you want to put them out on the streets?” state Sen. Kim Hammer (R) pressed, according to Newsmax. “I just don’t think that’s a mindset I’d want to support.”
Indeed, polls have found that the majority of Americans are against the idea of firing someone for refusing to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Those who oppose the bill have put forth a couple of different arguments. One, raised by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), is that the bill improperly takes from businesses the power to develop their own vaccination policies.
Another is that the bill could hurt some businesses, since it might stop out-of-state companies from doing business with ones based in Arkansas that allow employees to opt out of vaccination. Others argue that, by violating President Biden’s mandate, some companies may lose out on some federal funding.
Will it pass?
The answer to this, at the moment, is unclear.
After passing through the Arkansas legislature, the bill is now headed to Gov. Hutchinson’s desk. It’s clear he is against the bill, but it’s uncertain if he plans to veto it. If he does, the state legislature can override this move with a simple majority.
When the bill would go into effect is also up in the air. According to reports, it could either take effect immediately or 90 days after the legislature adjourns.