Missouri Businesses Worried GOP Lawmakers Will Take Away Choice for Vaccine Mandate

As Missouri Republicans consider blocking businesses from requiring their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, a group of lawmakers and businesses stood in opposition.

Representatives for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other business groups came to a Tuesday state House hearing for over 12 bills limiting businesses' abilities to mandate vaccines, the Associated Press reported.

The report said the bills include bans on public and private employer mandates after January 2020, making employers take responsibility if employees have side effects from the vaccine and more.

While many Republican lawmakers believe getting vaccinated against the virus should be up to individual choice, many businesses argue the decision should be left to them.

According to The Joplin Globe, Kara Corches, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce's vice president of governmental affairs, said these are "business decisions" and "every employer is different."

"Our stance on this is really simple: Let business decide," Corches said.

The Globe reported this group of businesses also attended a January 12 House Judiciary Committee hearing focused on similar bills. Some of these would make it an "unlawful discriminatory practice" to mandate medication the Food and Drug Administration has not fully authorized—even if it is an emergency authorization—when it goes against employees' "religious beliefs, moral convictions or philosophical reasons."

Rep. Bill Hardwick, a sponsor of one of these bills, told the Globe the bills are not about what medication people should take, but about "what rights you should have."

In an open letter to Gov. Mike Parson and other state lawmakers, the group of businesses said its "position remains consistent" in being against the government's alleged attempts to "interfere with how businesses operate," the AP reported.

"Government should not force employers to mandate vaccination, nor should government block employers from requiring vaccination," it said.

According to the AP, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry also was in opposition of President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers, which a Texas judge recently blocked.

Data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services show over 62 percent of the state's population has received the first dose of the vaccine and about 55 percent is fully vaccinated. This falls below the national vaccination number, which Our World in Data says is about 63 percent of the population.

Though Missouri was seeing an increase in booster doses being administered toward the end of last year, the health department data says that number has begun to decrease.

Missouri state capitol
Missouri lawmakers are weighing bills that could stop businesses from mandating COVID-19 vaccination for their employees. Above, the Missouri state capitol. Stock Image/Getty Images