4 GOP-controlled states are changing their unemployment laws to allow those defying COVID-19 vaccine mandates to get benefits
- GOP-controlled legislatures are seeking to undermine President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate.
- Four states have passed bills that would provide unemployment benefits to those fired for refusing the vaccine.
- Vaccine mandates have become an issue of fierce partisan controversy.
Republican-controlled legislatures in four states are changing their unemployment laws so that people who have been fired or quit their jobs over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate can claim unemployment benefits.
The Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee state legislatures all changed their unemployment insurance rules in recent weeks to allow those refusing to comply with vaccine mandates to claim benefits.
Under the usual rules, employees who have quit their jobs or been fired are not entitled to claim unemployment benefits. Axios reported the development on Sunday.
Here's a rundown of the changes:
- On October 30, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill protecting the unemployment benefits of those fired for defying the mandates.
- On November 12, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed into law a bill allowing those defying vaccine mandates to claim unemployment benefits.
- On November 19, Florida passed a bill allowing those defying the vaccine mandate to claim benefits as part of a broader bill providing a series of exemptions to employers' COVID-19 mandates.
- On November 23, lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Kansas State Legislature passed a bill protecting unemployment benefits of vaccine-mandate defiers as part of a bill broadening religious exemptions from the mandate, the Associated Press reported.
The laws seemed designed to undermine President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate, which is set to come into force in January. Under the rules, federal government employees or those employed in companies that have 100 or more people must get vaccinated, or submit to weekly COVID-19 tests. Companies defying the mandate face hefty fines.
Many Republicans have positioned themselves in opposition to vaccine mandates, and GOP-led legislatures in several states have enacted laws to provide broad exemptions to mandates.
According to researchers at the University of Oxford, the US has one of the lowest vaccination rates of countries in the G7. New concerns are growing about a new coronavirus variant identified last week, Omicron, which some experts say may be more transmissible.