The Mississippi Senate passed House Bill 1509 by a 36-15 vote along party lines, with Republicans voting in favor of the measure.
H.B. 1509 prohibits private companies and Mississippi government entities from requiring COVID-19 inoculation of employees over their “sincerely held religious objections.”
However, the Senate added a provision to the bill to ensure more debate before it goes to the governor, citing concerns the measure could jeopardize federal funding for state universities.
The Mississippi Senate is taking up HB 1509, the House's bill that would prohibit mandating covid vaccines for public employees. It also allows for religious exemptions as well. #msleg
Read the bill: https://t.co/oD6aXqjxFU
— Yall Politics (@MSyallpolitics) March 9, 2022
— Nashville Angela (@Angelasfreenews) March 11, 2022
Per ABC News:
The bill says Mississippi government entities could not withhold services or refuse jobs to people who choose not to get vaccinated against COVID-19. That prohibition includes state agencies, city and county governments and schools, community colleges and universities.
The bill specifies that COVID-19 vaccinations could not be required for children to attend school or day care, although Mississippi has some of the tightest requirements in the nation for other types of childhood vaccinations.
“The Senate passed a strong, conservative bill which protects employees and children attending school in Mississippi from a COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” said Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann. “I personally support a broader bill providing a religious exemption for vaccine requirements for schools and will support that provision when it is properly before the Senate.”
Mississippi Today reported:
Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, offered an amendment to provide such a broad exemption from any vaccine requirements, not just COVID-19. But a point of order was raised that the original bill applied only to COVID-19 and his amendment was too expansive. Hosemann ruled it was too expansive an amendment. McDaniel took the unusual step of appealing Hosemann’s ruling to the full Senate, which voted 34-16 to uphold Hosemann’s ruling.
“This may not seem like a civil rights issue, but it is a civil rights issue — the right of people to control what goes into their body,” McDaniel said.
A group of supporters of the vaccine mandate ban packed the Senate gallery, and had to be warned twice by Hosemann to stop cheering when lawmakers made anti-vaccine mandate statements.
Sen. Chad McMahan, R-Tupelo, offered an unsuccessful amendment to allow a medical-condition exemption to any vaccine mandate. Although his amendment failed, he was assured that is already in state law.
“We’re here today because the federal government overstepped its authority to tell people they have to take an experimental vaccine,” McMahan said.
Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, told his colleagues he represents “ground zero” for vaccine mandates, with Ingalls Shipbuilding in his district. The shipyard enacted a vaccine mandate, but later suspended it as 20% of its 11,500 employees faced termination for not being vaccinated.
“Those employees shouldn’t be put in the position at all,” Wiggins said.
But Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, questioned whether the bill could jeopardize community health.
“So the rights of the individual trump the rights of society?” Horhn said, drawing a loud cheer from supporters of the bill in the gallery. “Their rights are going to trump the safety of a whole city, whole community or the whole state? By pushing individual rights, we could be putting a lot of people at risk.”
“That’s a risk we’re willing to take for protecting individual rights,” said Sen. Dennis DeBar, R-Leakesville.
Yes, individual rights should always trump the rights of society or the collective.
Individual rights should never be impeded by the government for the ‘common good of society.’
That’s a one-way ticket to socialism & communism.
Mississippi House Bill 1509 reads:
An Act To Prohibit A State Agency, Public Official, State Institution Of Higher Learning, Public Community Or Junior College, County, Municipality Or Other Political Subdivision Of The State From Refusing Services, Health Care Access Or Employment Opportunities To A Person, Or Otherwise Discriminate Against A Person, Based Upon His Or Her Covid-19 Vaccination Status Or Possession Of A Covid-19 Immunity Passport; To Define The Terms “immunity Passport” And “covid-19 Vaccination Status”; To Provide A Certain Exemption For Health Care Facilities; And For Related Purposes.
However, there’s one concerning provision pertaining to healthcare facilities:
SECTION 2. A health care facility is exempt from compliance with this act during any period of time that compliance with this act would result in a violation of regulations or guidance issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.