(INDIANAPOLIS) – Governor Holcomb says he has questions about legislators’ proposed limits on private vaccine mandates.
Holcomb says he’ll end Indiana’s 20-month health emergency next week if three provisions of his executive orders are added to state law. He says he’s pleased a proposed bill addresses all three. But the bill packages those provisions with new limits on vaccine requirements.
The bill would ban local schools and state universities from requiring vaccinations — including Indiana University, which already does. Businesses could still require workers to either get vaccinated or get tested regularly, but they’d have to honor requests for religious or medical exemptions, including for pregnancy or “anticipated pregnancy.” Workers who have had COVID-19 would be exempt from the requirement for six months. And unlike President Biden’s federally issued vaccine-or-testing mandate, the bill doesn’t specify how often unvaccinated workers must be tested, and says the employee isn’t responsible for the cost.
In a brief Q&A session with reporters, Holcomb repeatedly declined to say whether he’d support those proposals. But his enthusiastic endorsement of the quick action on the provisions he’d requested stood in sharp contrast to the vaccine limits, where he repeatedly said there are “ongoing discussions” with legislators. He notes the House and Senate plan a joint committee hearing Tuesday, and says Hoosiers should take the opportunity to share their own concerns.
Holcomb had asked legislators to expand the range of people authorized to administer vaccinations, a step authorized for now by the governor’s executive orders under the emergency declaration. He’s also requested changing state law so Indiana doesn’t lose hundreds of millions of dollars in extra Medicaid and food stamp money if it ends the emergency — the change would link Indiana’s eligibility to the still-active federal emergency instead.
Holcomb says those changes are the final barriers to ending the emergency declaration. But he declined to say whether he’ll sign the bill if it also includes the vaccine language.
The legislation technically isn’t a bill yet, but a preliminary draft. Legislators plan to introduce the formal bill on Monday, and waive the normal rules to ram it through in a single day to end the emergency as quickly as possible.
32 House Republicans have signed on to resolutions to end the declaration immediately, regardless of what happens with any other bills.