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INDIANAPOLIS (LifeSiteNews) — Republicans in the Indiana House of Representatives have advanced legislation to prevent coercive vaccine mandates.

The Hoosier State Republicans placed HB 1001 at the top of their 2022 legislative agenda and have moved the legislation to a full vote in the Indiana House. An amended version passed 65-23 on Thursday. Another vote is expected for Tuesday, January 18.

The legislation is similar to a Florida bill that makes it harder for private businesses to mandate COVID jabs, by carving out exemptions for natural immunity, religious and medical reasons. It would also require that employers offer weekly COVID testing as an alternative for individuals who do not want to get jabbed.

“[A]n employer may not impose a requirement that employees receive an immunization against COVID-19 unless the employer provides individual exemptions that allow an employee to opt out of the requirement on the basis of medical reasons, religious reasons, an agreement to submit to testing for the presence of COVID-19, or immunity from COVID-19 acquired from a prior infection with COVID-19,” a summary of the legislation says.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has previously said private employers should be allowed to fire individuals who choose not to take the abortion-tainted jabs.

Employers are not allowed to punish employees for asking for an exemption under the bill, either.

The legislation also expands a previous law that prohibited state and local units of government from requiring vaccine passports by adding in public colleges and schools.

It would also prohibit the state health commissioner from requiring children to get vaccinated and prohibits a minor from getting jabbed without parental consent.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce opposed the legislation.

The bill is “detrimental to an employer’s ability to establish a safe workplace and sets a dangerous precedent,” the chamber said in a January 11 statement. The legislation offers some reimbursement for the testing of employees who do not want to get jabbed, but the chamber has concerns about the costs. Employees cannot be required to pay out-of-pocket, but Republican leaders said there would be funds made available to reimburse employers.

However, it has other concerns, including about religious exemptions. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce and business interests played a key role in 2015 in convincing then-Gov. Mike Pence to weaken religious liberty protections for small businesses owned by people of faith.

“The message from the business community when it comes to employer vaccination policies is: Please stay out of our business operations,” the chamber said in a December 16 statement. “Hoosier employers are in the best position to determine what the best vaccination policy is for the safety of their employees, customers and patients.”

“House Bill 1001 would restrict and discourage employers from requiring vaccines in their workplaces if they determine it’s the best course of action,” the statement said. “Over the past six to nine months, many Hoosier employers have implemented vaccination requirements for their employees. House Bill 1001 would be very disruptive and expensive to these employers.”

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