Local lawmakers pen bill to end state of emergency

State Rep. Chris Judy (R-Fort Wayne) (second from left) and Bob Morris (R-Fort Wayne) (right)...
State Rep. Chris Judy (R-Fort Wayne) (second from left) and Bob Morris (R-Fort Wayne) (right) join fellow co-authors to file House Bill 1001(Indiana House Republicans)
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 10:28 AM EST
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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) - Local lawmakers are taking aim at Indiana businesses that enact vaccination mandates and the statewide public health emergency that has been in effect since March 2020.

Legislators submitted those measures as soon as they were able, signaling their priorities for the 2022 General Assembly session that begins the first week of January. “House Bill 1001″ would require employers who enact a COVID-19 vaccine mandate to offer – and pay for – weekly testing options to workers who reject vaccination.

“State Rep. Chris Judy (R-Fort Wayne) said House Bill 1001 would allow Gov. Eric Holcomb’s state public health emergency to expire by ensuring Indiana could continue receiving the same federal reimbursements for SNAP and Medicaid, and maintain the state’s ability to hold voluntary community vaccination clinics,” a release by Indiana House Republicans says.

State Rep. Bob Morris (R-Fort Wayne) said the legislation would also require businesses to accept medical and religious exemptions if they have a COVID-19 vaccine requirement in place. A first reading of that bill, which is authored by Rep. Matt Lehman, of Berne (Dist. 79), is set for Jan. 4.

Two House Concurrent Resolutions – HCR 0002 and HCR 0003 – aim to terminate the public health emergency that has been in effect for about 20 months.

One of them reads, in part: “The general assembly finds that the various restrictions imposed upon the residents of Indiana to implement the state of disaster emergency are no longer necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of Indiana.

“Be it resolved... that the General Assembly terminates the public health emergency that was originally declared by the Governor on March 6, 2020, and renewed on a monthly basis ever since, effective immediately upon the passage of this resolution by the Senate.”

Holcomb this week renewed the public health emergency through the end of December and indicated further renewal is likely. Last month, he said he would allow that declaration to expire if and when lawmakers pass legislation addressing three key areas of concern.

An effort to do that in late November failed. Lawmakers called off a planned vote after a day of hearings focused on the matter.

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