Missouri Business Headlines

Standing up for employers in Senate vaccine debate

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Let business decide

With an all-night lobbying effort and a bold new media campaign, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is continuing to lead the charge against proposals to expand the government’s authority over employer vaccine policies.

The debate over whether the government should override employer vaccine policies tied up the Senate floor during an all-night Senate debate on March 23-24.

From dusk to dawn, the Missouri Chamber governmental affairs team worked to rally opposition against dangerous amendments that would have stopped employers from being able to choose whether to require their staff get vaccinated against COVID-19.

One amendment, offered by Sen. Bill Eigel, a Republican from St. Charles, sought to allow business-killing lawsuits against employers that enact vaccine requirements. The proposal would have given employees the ability to sue for three times back pay with fringe benefits and punitive damages, creating windfalls for trial attorneys at the expense of businesses. Eventually, the underlying bill and the proposed amendments were set aside.

Earlier that same day, a Senate committee hearing took on a contentious tone as some lawmakers derided the Missouri Chamber’s position on employer vaccine requirements. Sen. Bob Onder, a Republican from Lake St. Louis, called the Missouri Chamber position “totalitarian” and said employers that choose to require vaccines were treating employees as “serfs” or “slaves.”

The Missouri Chamber’s leadership on this issue — supported by many other industry groups at the Capitol — is focused on protecting employers’ long-held right to make vaccine decisions in the workplace.

The Missouri Chamber believes that the government should not impose vaccine mandates on employers — as the Biden administration tried and failed to do — nor should the government forbid companies from requiring the vaccine.

The Missouri Chamber is asking lawmakers to respect our system of free enterprise and simply let business decide.

Dozens of bills have been filed in the legislature this year on this topic. Several are advancing through the process, with House-passed bills now being considered in a Senate committee.

The bills range in severity, with some bills essentially barring all COVID-19 vaccine requirements and opening up businesses to new lawsuit threats. On the other end of the spectrum are bills that would simply reinforce federal law requiring specific exemptions for religious or health reasons.

“Employers have long had the legal right to require vaccines in the workplace,” said Kara Corches, Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs, during a Senate hearing on March 23. “Some employers believe that vaccination is needed in the workplace. Others don’t. The vast majority are encouraging rather than requiring vaccination — but nonetheless, they do have the right to do so. We believe that this should be a workplace conversation between the employer and the employee. It doesn’t need to be legislated.”

But with proposed laws continuing to advance, the Missouri Chamber has launched a new media campaign to raise awareness of the issue.

The Let Business Decide campaign highlights how hundreds of Missouri employers have united against government overreach.

A series of new web and video ads is intended to help rally the business community and place pressure on lawmakers to not support these anti-business proposals.

As we move forward, Missouri businesses are strongly encouraged to sign our Let Business Decide letter and send emails to your lawmakers.

For more information, contact Corches at kcorches@mochamber.com or 573-634-3511.

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