Arkansas Senate passes bill that could override federal vaccine mandate


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Senate Bill 739 heads to the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee for vote after passing through senate.

The bill, proposed by State Senator Kim Hammer, says any employer that mandates the vaccine must also offer an exemption process that includes testing or proof of antibodies.

Hammer said the bill is in response to the Arkansans on track to lose their jobs soon as a result of vaccine mandates and would give them a way out of the mandate. It would also provide flexibility for businesses.

“We’re all getting emails and we’re all hearing stories that some people are going to lose their job if they are forced to pick between keeping their job or getting the vaccine,” he said.

Political science associate professor, Dr. Daniel Bennett, said if the bill passes, there could still be a challenge from the federal government.

“In a case where there’s clear contradiction between state and federal law, the federal law is usually going to win,” he said. “However, in cases where there is some confusion about the federal government’s authority, states might benefit off of that confusion.”

Dr. Bennett said it is not uncommon for states to try to override the federal government with legislation.

The bill heads to the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee Tuesday, September 5 for vote.

Senator Hammer presented the bill with an emergency clause to make it go into effect immediately after being passed, but it failed. The bill would now become effective 90 days after passing through the legislature.

If enacted, it would expire by July 2023, unless extended by lawmakers.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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