Arkansas Senate OKs vaccine exemption process for employers

October 4, 2021 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Senate has advanced a measure that would require an exemption process for workers who face a COVID-19 vaccine mandate from their employers.

The vote Monday came during a special session that was called to redraw the state’s congressional maps.

The measure from Sen. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, says any employer that mandates the vaccine must also offer an exemption process that includes testing or proof of antibodies. If enacted, the requirement would end July 31, 2023, unless it is extended by lawmakers.

Republican lawmakers have filed numerous bills targeting vaccine mandates for the special session, which began last week. The proposals are primarily in response to President Joe Biden’s order requiring workers at businesses with at least 100 employees to get vaccinated or tested regularly.

The discussion over vaccine requirements comes as coronavirus cases continue to decrease in Arkansas. According to Johns Hopkins University, Arkansas had 529.7 new cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, which ranks 28th in the country for new cases per capita.