Nearing the end of the regular legislative session, lawmakers in Jefferson City supported a variety of COVID-19 liability provisions Wednesday, many of which had previously been brought to the House and Senate floors.
All the provisions fell under House Bill 682, which is not connected to the pandemic but prohibits higher education institutions from requiring students to live on campus for more than one year. The overarching bill was sponsored by Rep. Jason Chipman, R-Steelville.
The COVID-19-related amendments to the bill would:
• protect local businesses from criminal and civil liability due to accidental exposure to COVID-19;
• prohibit government from closing businesses or requiring individuals to quarantine without strong evidence of the presence of a contagious disease;
• prohibit all state departments and agencies from requiring their employees, or anyone who enters their buildings, to be vaccinated against COVID-19; and
• limit the scope and duration of emergency health orders issued by state and local governments.
Various amendments were debated on the House floor for hours Wednesday afternoon. House Amendment 3, sponsored by Rep. Suzie Pollock, R-Lebanon, was particularly contentious.
Pollock’s amendment stated that public schools would not be allowed to require students to be vaccinated against polio, measles, mumps, tetanus, whooping cough, diphtheria or hepatitis B. In short, parents could choose to “opt out” of these vaccines.
Missouri allows vaccination exemptions for religious or medical reasons. But Pollock said it is difficult for families to actually opt out of vaccinations, so the amendment would have made the process easier.
Pollock’s amendment faced heavy opposition from both sides of the aisle. Lawmakers said expanding vaccination exemptions would put vulnerable Missourians, such as immunocompromised children, at a heightened risk of becoming seriously ill.
Rep. Mike Stephens, R-Bolivar, said that by removing vaccination mandates, lawmakers would send “a clear message, an anti-vaccine message” to Missourians.
“Vaccines have a wonderful history of preventing disease and saving millions of lives throughout the world,” Stephens said. “But no medicine that you inject or take into your body will be completely safe for everybody, all the time.”
Stephens, who chairs the House Health and Mental Health Policy Committee, said that regardless of how well-intentioned Pollock’s amendment was, it would send the wrong message.
Other lawmakers explained that although they vaccinated their children, they are in favor of individual freedom.
“I believe in vaccinations — my children and my grandchildren have their vaccinations,” Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, said. “I think people should get vaccinated, but I truly believe that it is a parent’s right to make this decision.”
After over an hour of deliberation, Pollock’s amendment reached a roll-call vote in the House. The bipartisan body shot down the provision with a vote of 79-67.
Delays push $4.5M renovation project into 2021.
This poll is not a scientific sampling. It offers a snapshot of what readers are thinking.
Local Musician Barak Hill talks about how he started writing music and earning money from his skills. He says his first motivation to start making money was to get music to pay for itself.
Heather Kite, owner of startup business Rooted Deep Farms, talks about tough times during the winter of 2020-2021. She says determination was a necessary component that kept her going.
Jeramey and Julia Henson, co-owners of HM Dentworks Academy, discuss the importance of family in work-life balance. They say you can’t make up for the major life events. HM Dentworks Academy is also co-owned by Chris McWhirter.
Rachel Barks, owner of Artistry Pottery, talks about her struggle with PXE, or Pseudoxanthoma elasticum, a disease that affects the eyes. She says that despite her struggle, she is ultimately thankful.
Jessica Burkland, a Missouri State University business instructor in the Department of Management, talks about small business start-up trends in a post-pandemic year. Burkland, who owns Activate Consulting & Training and volunteers as a small business mentor for SCORE of Southwest Missouri, says startups that offer new services and products to help people work from home or that enhance mental health could find greater success.
Jim and Debbie Meinsen, co-owners of TCI Graphics, say the past year has been one of the toughest they have faced. Now in the company's 50th year, the couple says they learned a few things in 2020.
Charlie Rosenbury, president of Self-Interactive, calls on his experience in programming to illustrate lessons he has learned running a business and life in general. Springfield Business Journal's 90 Ideas is presented by Great Southern Bank.
Darline Mabins talks with SBJ’s Christine Temple about growing up after a tragic accident took the lives of her mother and older brother. Mabins is now the regional branch sales manager for Arvest Bank. No Ceiling is an SBJ podcast, going in depth with local women, sharing their journey to the top of their professions.
Caleb Scott, owner, coach and player for Queen City Insane Asylum semi-professional football team, talks about the ways that the team works to support each other on and off the field. Scott says you can’t force people to become leaders, they have to come naturally.
Steve Williams, owner of Crosstown Barbecue, discusses the role relationships have played throughout the 51 years that Crosstown Barbecue has been in business. He says that while he puts effort into providing the best food he can, ultimately “people like to do business with people they like.”