LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP/KARK) — The Arkansas Senate has advanced a measure that would require an exemption process for workers who face a COVID-19 vaccine mandate from their employers.
The vote Monday came during a continuance of the regular legislative session called to redraw the state’s congressional maps.
The measure from Sen. Kim Hammer, a Republican from Benton, says any employer that mandates the vaccine must also offer an exemption process that includes testing or proof of antibodies.
During debate on the bill, Hammer said this would give options to employees who sought religious or medical exemptions to employer vaccine mandates but were denied.
If enacted, the requirement would end July 31, 2023, unless it is extended by lawmakers.
Senators also passed two other measures, SB730 and SB732.
The first bill would authorize unemployment benefits for people who lose their jobs because they would not take a COVID-19 vaccine.
The second measure would make it illegal to “coerce” someone into taking a vaccine, while still making it fine for businesses and other groups to use incentives to encourage vaccinations.
The three bills all now move to the Arkansas House.
Motions to file these measures under an Emergency Clause, which would let them go into effect immediately after being approved, failed, meaning that they would be delayed for at least 90 days.