DES MOINES — The top Republican in the Iowa House says a new law on COVID vaccination exemptions for Iowa employees appears to be working — and House Speaker Pat Grassley says it’s not clear that legislators need to pass another bill on the topic.
The law, passed in October, lets Iowa private-sector workers claim religious or medical exemptions from any COVID vaccination requirement in their workplace and, if their exemption is denied and they’re fired, they may file for unemployment benefits.
“I’ve been getting…from members to me that have been very passionate about this issue that they’re getting good feedback now that there’s clarity that the exemption process is working,” Grassley says. “…If the legislature needs to act on things that come up, we should do that, but we shouldn’t just be passing things just to pass them.”
In early January, both Grassley and Governor Kim Reynolds said lawmakers should wait for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a federal mandate that workers in large businesses get vaccinated or be tested weekly for COVID. Recently, the court blocked the Biden Administration from implementing that mandate.
“Obviously, we’re very happy to see the way that the court ruled,” Grassley says. “It’s going to provide some of that certainty that was non-existent. We were getting so many questions of what to do.”
Other Republicans in the legislature have introduced bills addressing vaccine mandates, including one that would forbid Iowa cities and school districts from requiring students get COVID shots before returning to school. Another bill still in development would prohibit all types of vaccine mandates in Iowa businesses.