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Arkansas House panel advances bill to exempt workers from vaccine mandates

by Jeannie Roberts | October 5, 2021 at 11:15 a.m.
FILE — The state Capitol is shown in this file photo.

A Senate bill to exempt employees from federal covid-19 mandates quickly passed a House committee Tuesday morning while another failed for a tenet that would have opened the door to fines for businesses failing to implement the measure.

The House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee approved Senate Bill 739, sponsored by Sen. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, with only a few comments from lawmakers and only one person speaking in opposition.

SB739 would require employers that mandate vaccinations to provide an exemption process for workers, including requiring them to produce a negative antigen test once a week or proof of immunity including the presence of antibodies twice a year.

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus]

SB739 now goes before the full house for consideration.

Prior to the passage of SB739, the committee heard testimony for over an hour for and against Senate Bill 732, sponsored by Sen. Blake Johnson, R-Corning, before failing the proposal.

SB732 would prohibit a business, person or any other legal or commercial entity from coercing someone to receive a vaccination or immunization from covid-19 under certain conditions.

Legislators expressed concern that the bill would open the door for possible fines up to $500 for businesses that do not comply with its tenets.

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