On Thursday, October 28, the second Iowa special legislative session concluded with the legislature approving the second Legislative and Congressional District Plan (SF621) and Covid Vaccine Exemptions (HF902). Governor Reynolds signed the Covid Vaccine Exemptions bill (HF902) into law on Friday, October 29 and is expected to sign the Legislative and Congressional District Plan (SF621) as well.
The Legislative and Congressional District Plan (SF621) was approved by the Senate 48-1, with Senator Rozenboom voting against the bill. The House approved the plan 93-2, with Representatives Jeneary and Jacobsen voting against the bill. Governor Reynolds issued the following statement after the plan was approved:
Today’s decision by the Iowa Legislature to approve the second draft of the legislative and congressional redistricting maps is very encouraging, I am confident in how the process played out — just as the law intended, and I believe these new districts will fairly and accurately represent the citizens of Iowa for the next decade.
Final maps as approved by the General Assembly (effective for the 2022 election cycle). Click on the maps for a larger view:
The House approved the Covid Vaccine Exemption bill (HF902) on a 68-27 vote; the Senate approved the bill on a 45-4 vote. Much of the debate was related to potential costs for the unemployment provisions and government overreach. Governor Reynolds issued the following statement on the bill after its passage:
I believe the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19 and we’ve provided Iowans with the information they need to determine what’s best for themselves and their families, but no Iowan should be forced to lose their job or livelihood over the COVID-19 vaccine. Today the legislature passed a bipartisan bill that prohibits employers from denying employees’ religious and medical exemptions related to this vaccine. This is a major step forward in protecting Iowans’ freedoms and their abilities to make healthcare decisions based on what’s best for themselves and their families. This legislation also gives employees the assurance that they will still receive unemployment benefits despite being fired for standing up for their beliefs. Not only do I plan to sign this legislation, but I am committed to doing even more. When the Biden Administration issues the OSHA vaccine mandate in the coming days, we will take immediate legal action.
A brief summary of the Covid Vaccine Exemption Bill (HF902):
- Establishes exemptions from employer-required Covid vaccinations for employees and applicants
- Exemptions apply where an employee submits a statement that either: (1) vaccination would be injurious to the health of the employee or individual residing with the employee; or (2) that the vaccination would conflict with the tenets and practices of the employee’s religion
- Employees discharged for refusal to receive a Covid vaccination are not disqualified for unemployment benefits on that basis
- Prohibits the Department of Workforce Development from imposing a penalty or taking additional actions as permitted under Chapter 96 against any employer employing the employee or any previous employer other than the employer that discharged the employee
If you have questions related to the Covid Vaccine Exemption Bill (HF902) please contact your Dentons employment lawyer.
Please contact your Government Relations Team with any questions about the Special Legislative Session or final action that was taken by the General Assembly.