South Carolina lawmakers aim to block COVID-19 mandates

Grand Strand

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — Out of the many bills pre-filed Wednesday out of the South Carolina House, several were aimed to block COVID-19 mandates.

State lawmakers said South Carolinians should not have to lose their jobs or schooling opportunities due to not being vaccinated. They said it’s important to get these bills passed to protect citizens’ rights.

“I think most people believe that as the governor did, mandates are wrong,” Rep. Joe Bustos, R-Charleston, said.

Other lawmakers shared similar sentiments.

“Many of us are pushing back, thinking this is insane,” said Rep. Mike Burns, R-Greenville. “This is not a good idea.”

Nearly a dozen bills filed from state lawmakers related to COVID-19, with one goal in mind — to put a stop to mask and vaccine mandates.

“We have guaranteed constitutional rights and some people in this country right now are willing to sacrifice those rights for whatever their expedient reason is,” Burns said.

Many of the bills target the vaccine. One would stop establishments from requiring vaccinations, while another would prevent the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) from enforcing mask and vaccine requirements.

Bustos sponsored a new bill that would prevent employers from firing workers who refuse to get the vaccine, as long as they previously had the virus or monoclonal therapy.

“There are ways that people have antibodies other than by vaccine,” Bustos said. “I think in either circumstance, that the folks should not be fired if they have the antibodies.”

Perhaps the biggest bill to come out of the House would be the one with the most sponsors; referred to as the “Montana Bill,” this would make it unlawful to discriminate against someone based on their vaccination status.

According to Burns, Gov. Henry McMaster said as soon as it hits his desk, he’s ready to sign it.

“Because there’s been a flu or a pandemic, none of those puts a timeout on the United States or the South Carolina constitution, so at least people are guaranteed their rights,” Burns said.

Once the house is back in session on Jan. 11, the reading process for these bills will begin. Burns is hopeful some of the bills will be rushed through committee and get on the floor as soon as possible. 

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