Vaccine mandate bills overshadow redistricting special session Tuesday

Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 3:29 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Tuesday marks day four of the special session on redistricting. The maps that legislators have been debating all week are close to the final leg of the legislative process. However, the redistricting bills seemed to take a back seat to the vaccine mandate bills that took up much of the Senate’s time Tuesday.

The two bills would ban employers from requiring the COVID-19 vaccines and punish those who do so.

“Not something that somebody sincerely feel themselves, but we as a legislature are about to manufacture an excuse for folk not to take the vaccine,” said Sen. Bobby Singleton.

Senate Bill 9 would let employees claim medical or religious exemption by just a check of a box, and Senate Bill 15 would allow the Alabama attorney general to pursue civil actions if they are required.

The Senate voted 26-5 to adopt Senate Bill 9. It now goes to the House.

Sen. Chris Elliott, who sponsors Senate Bill 9, explained on the floor that employers who don’t agree with someone’s exemption would have to appeal with the Department of Labor.

With the focus of this session being on redistricting, Democrats call these bills “red meat bills.”

“The Republicans are just following the national trend. I think that they all don’t believe in what they really are asking for in these bills,” said Singleton.

Singleton calls the bill weak because there is no check and balances or punishments for employees who lie on their form.

Republican senators say these bills are necessary to protect personal liberty.

“Personally, I think we need to get something passed. I think we need to deal with this mandate, which I think is improperly done and improperly handled. But we have it now and we’ve got to find a way to deal with it,” said Sen. Greg Albritton.

If passed, a large question that remains is who would employers, especially federally contracted companies, listen to - state law or President Joe Biden’s mandate - and what punishments would be in place.

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