State lawmakers call on Gov. Ivey to address vaccine mandate at special session

COVID-19 vaccine
Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 10:46 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - In one week, lawmakers will begin a second special session in Montgomery.

Governor Ivey called the session this time to discuss redistricting, but many are calling for her to add something to the agenda: vaccine mandates.

One Alabama lawmaker has already pre-filed legislation aimed at stopping them in Alabama.

It’s called the Alabama Health Freedom Act. If passed, employers could not hire or fire employees based on vaccination status.

Lawmakers we talked to tell us Governor Ivey needs to act fast on this because the deadline for the federal mandate is approaching.

November 22; that’s the deadline for federal workers and contractors to get the COVID vaccine, according to President Biden’s executive order on a vaccine mandate.

“People are being fired and let go today and the clock is ticking on a lot of people losing their job,” State Senator Arthur Orr said.

But House Bill 31, or the Alabama Health Freedom Act would prevent businesses in the state from requiring new or existing employees to get vaccinated.

Representative Ritchie Whorton pre-filed the bill for the 2022 session, but hopes it will be voted on next week in the special session.

Whorton is a business owner himself with All-Star Pools in Owens Cross Roads.

Out of his 25 employees, only three of them chose to get the vaccine.

He says he requires them to wear safety equipment at work, but that doesn’t follow them home unlike the vaccine.

He said in part, “I don’t own my employees and after they comply to what I want them to do, they get to go home and take that stuff off. but if I force them to take the covid shot that’s something you can’t take off,” Whorton said.

State Senator Arthur Orr agrees and is urging the Governor to move even faster.

“I think it’s very important to go ahead and get the executive order out there, and not wait on the legislative bill or the legislative process which is time consuming. With the stroke of a pen, Governor Ivey can bring some clarity to this area for the time being,” Orr said.

Orr says he’s heard from dozens of people in his district who are fearful of losing their jobs over their choice.

“It’s hottest up here in north Alabama because of the high level of federal employees and federal contract employees.”

We’re still awaiting guidance from OSHA about a deadline for companies with 100 or more employees.

Orr says he expects to learn on Monday if Governor Ivey puts vaccine mandates on the agenda for the special session next week.

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