West Virginia House Passes COVID-19 Vaccine Exemption Bill

By The Center Square
The Center Square
The Center Square
The Center Square was launched in May 2019 to fulfill the need for high-quality statehouse and statewide news across the United States. The focus of our work is state- and local-level government and economic reporting. www.thecentersquare.com
October 20, 2021 Updated: October 20, 2021

Legislation that would ensure workers receive medical and religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates passed the West Virginia House on Friday and has made its way over to the Senate.

House Bill 3035 was introduced by Republican Gov. Jim Justice who argued the bill would clarify existing law to ensure the legal protections for health and religious vaccine exemptions are followed. Democratic leaders, on the other hand, alleged the bill is too broad and could put state law at odds with upcoming federal regulations.

If enacted, the law would prohibit a business from penalizing or discriminating against current or prospective employers who are not vaccinated as long as they qualify for an exemption.

To qualify for a medical exemption, a person would need to provide a certification signed by a doctor or a nurse who performed an examination on the person who recommends he not get the vaccine. For a religious exemption, the person would need to sign a notarized certification, which states he holds a religious belief that prevents him from taking the vaccine.

The legislation would not limit private vaccine mandates apart from the exemptions. Although some Republicans have voiced support for legislation to ban private companies from imposing the mandates, there is no consensus in the state’s Republican Party and the effort is opposed by the governor.

Lawmakers are conducting a special session, which is primarily meant to approve redistricting measures.

By Tyler Arnold

The Center Square was launched in May 2019 to fulfill the need for high-quality statehouse and statewide news across the United States. The focus of our work is state- and local-level government and economic reporting. www.thecentersquare.com