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Indiana lawmakers aim to restrict businesses' ability to mandate COVID-19 vaccine

statehouse night time

Lawmakers will meet for a one-day session on Nov. 29 to consider a single bill related to the COVID-19 public health emergency and vaccine mandates. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)

Indiana lawmakers will come into session before the end of November to significantly change how private businesses can require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Legislators will also use the one-day session on a bill that will allow the governor to end the ongoing public health emergency.

Gov. Eric Holcomb requested three changes to state law in order to end the public emergency but not lose key benefits for Hoosiers: measures to keep enhanced federal benefits for food assistance and matching funds for Medicaid and to allow the state to more efficiently get 5- to 11-year-olds vaccinated.

Proposed legislation will deliver those changes.

READ MORE: How Is Indiana Distributing COVID-19 Vaccines? Here's What You Need To Know

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on COVID-19 and other statewide issues.

Lawmakers will also require businesses to include religious and medical exemptions under COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including exemptions for pregnancy and "anticipated pregnancy."

Additionally, employers can’t mandate COVID-19 vaccines unless they allow employees to opt out and instead undergo weekly testing. And they must allow employees to opt out if they’ve tested positive for COVID-19 within six months.

And under the proposed new law, employers cannot deny any requested religious or medical exemption – and can’t even ask further about the requests.

A committee meeting to hear testimony on the bill will take place Tuesday morning, at the Statehouse. The legislature will then meet on Monday, Nov. 29 to pass the measure.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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