vaccine mandate

Lawmakers Are Exempt From Vaccine Mandate, But Their Employees Are Not

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Employees of the state legislature face a deadline to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The clock is ticking for 400 legislative branch employees to get vaccinated.

The deadline is Nov. 1. 

“We’re following the rules of the executive branch where people either would submit their vaccination information or would have weekly testing if they are unvaccinated,” House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora said. 

Candelora said the same rules will now apply to 400 legislative branch employees. 

“I’m not really happy with this whole program that’s being imposed on our state workers because we have our employees working remotely from home so I’m not sure why we are putting this imposition on employees that we’re already accommodating to prevent spread of the virus,” Candelora says. 

But it won’t be long before they’re back at the state Capitol, which is partially open to the public. 

“If you’re going to invite the public to come I think it’s important for them to know that the legislature is taking it very seriously and that we have people getting tested or fully vaccinated,” House Speaker Matt Ritter said. 

Ritter said the mandate does not apply to the 187 lawmakers, however, the vast majority of his Democratic caucus wanted proof of vaccination or testing for its members. 

“We have members going through chemotherapy, we have members who have immunocompromised systems, we have members who are expecting mothers, and they’re doing their constitutional job of going to the capitol and sitting right next to people in a very small room with wooden desks,” Ritter said. 

Senate President Martin Looney agrees. 

“We want people coming into the building to either be vaccinated or be subject to regular testing,” Looney said. 

Even if it’s not a mandate for lawmakers, Candelora doesn’t believe making sure nearly 600 people are vaccinated will make a difference. 

“Most of our caucus members are vaccinated anyway so it doesn’t matter. But if we are going to impose rules on the legislature I think we would have to vote to impose that rule,” he said. 

However, “if we’re going to try to bring more normalcy back to the 2022 session. That means more interactions, that means more persons in the chamber. I think that’s why you’re having this different approach,” Ritter said.