Kansas’ Democrat governor to sign bill ensuring businesses give broad exemptions to vax mandate

The legislation would also allow workers who are terminated due to vaccine mandates to be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Updated: November 24, 2021 - 12:35am

Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said she plans on signing a bill that will force businesses with COVID-19 vaccine requirements to permit broad exceptions to employees who don't want the shot.

Kelly said in a one-sentence statement on Monday that she would sign the bill "when it reaches my desk," The Epoch Times reported. She had come out against President Biden's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses earlier this month.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican who is running against Kelly for governor, said that he would have signed the legislation if he were governor.

The bill was passed by the state legislature during a special session Monday.

According to the legislation, any employer imposing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate must exempt employees who submit written waiver requests saying that following the requirement would endanger their life or health or that of someone they live with, or if it would violate a sincerely held religious belief.

If employees are punished or fired in violation of the law, then they can file complaints with state officials who would investigate them and issue orders on cases within 60 days.

Employers found in violation of the law would face civil action and can be fined up to $10,000 per violation if they have under 100 employees or up to $50,000 per violation if they have 100 employees or more. But if the employee reinstates the worker, then they would avoid legal action.

Workers who are terminated due to vaccine mandates would also be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Republican Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson said the bill will "protect the rights of Kansans who are facing impending deadlines from the Biden administration that would force them to choose between their livelihood and their religious freedom or their livelihood and advice from their own physician," The Times reported.

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