South Carolina House passes 3rd reading of COVID-19 vaccine-mandate ban bill

State - Regional

Doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine wait to be administered to the students and faculty of UTPB during a vaccination clinic held in partnership with Midland Memorial Hospital, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Odessa, Texas. (Eli Hartman/Odessa American via AP)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — The South Carolina House voted Friday, mostly along party lines, to pass a bill that bans some from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine.

The legislation got a second reading on Thursday after hours of debate. It originally barred private businesses from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for employment and allowed employees who were fired to sue but that was changed by House Republican leadership Thursday night.

The amended legislation would allow employees who are fired because of their vaccination status to file for unemployment benefits. It would also require private employers to honor religious or medical exemptions. Rep. Gary Simrill, a York Republican, said a medical exemption can include the presence of coronavirus antibodies, a positive COVID-19 test or pregnancy.

The bill’s sponsor Rep. Stewart Jones, a Laurens Republican, said the bill “finds that balance with private employers and sets limitations with the religious and medical exemptions in the free market.”

Rep. Wendy Brawley said she and her Democratic colleagues think this is a bad bill.

“The people who are closest to the organizations, whether they are school districts, governmental entities and corporations should be the ones making the decision about their employees,” Brawley said.

The bill is now headed to the Senate after getting a third reading Friday morning. The Senate isn’t expected to return to Columbia until January when the second year of a two-year session starts.

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