Monday, April 15, 2024

Louisiana House rejects anti-vax bill after business lobby opposes it

by BIZ Magazine

PIPER HUTCHINSONLouisiana Illuminator

Registered nurse Orlyn Grace administers a COVID-19 booster vaccination to Jeanie Merriman at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on April 6, 2022, in San Rafael, California.
Registered nurse Orlyn Grace administers a COVID-19 booster vaccination to Jeanie Merriman at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on April 6, 2022, in San Rafael, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Louisiana lawmakers rejected a bill to open businesses and schools who require certain vaccines to civil liability after a powerful lobbying group came out against it.

House Bill 87, by Rep. Mike Echols, R-Monroe, would have allowed employees and students required to receive COVID-19 or other vaccines with emergency use authorization to sue if they are injured as a result of the vaccination.

Echols’ bill failed on a narrow 51-50 vote, just two votes short of approval. Echols said he intends to bring the bill back for another vote this session.

His proposal was opposed by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), a powerful lobbying organization that represents business interests.

“LABI opposes HB 87 as anti-business and harmful to the long-established purpose of workers compensation throughout the country. [Worker’s compensation] is employees’ exclusive remedy for their workplace injuries,” LABI lobbyist Jim Patterson wrote in a floor note to legislators. “HB 87 cracks that foundation and would create a new pipeline of litigation against Louisiana businesses. The bill sends the wrong message to current and prospective employers when our state leaders are working to encourage economic investment in our state.”

Echols, who consistently voted with LABI in the previous term, said he didn’t believe the bill was anti-business. He is not opposed to vaccinations but said he didn’t believe people should be forced to get them.

“I wouldn’t’ve brought this bill if I thought it was going to hurt business,” Echols said in his closing remarks. “I simply want to protect our people from mandates.”

The proposal made strange bedfellows out of Democrats and pro-business Republicans.

“I have an almost zero rating with LABI, so this is interesting for all of us,” Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, said.

The House signed off on another vaccine bill, House Bill 25 by Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, which provides immunity from lawsuits for businesses who refuse to implement a vaccine mandate for emergency use authorized-vaccines.

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