Representative Ed Lewis's Capitol Report

November 03, 2021

Vaccine Mandates

I have received a large number of emails, letters and phone calls about vaccine mandates. I don’t think that I have received any saying we should follow the Federal vaccine mandate. People should not be forced to get the COVID vaccine in order to conduct business or be hired in the state of Missouri. I filed HB838 last session and will file a similar bill this session (next session starts January 5th ).

This bill would prohibit any business that receives state funds or any state entity from requiring someone to get the COVID vaccine. I want to be very clear about my view. If you want to get the vaccine, you should be able to do so, and if you don’t want to get the vaccine, there shouldn’t be anyone forcing you to do so. For those being forced by your employer to get the vaccine or be fired, I would give this advice: You should claim a religious or medical exemption.

The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) restated on October 25th that federal law requires employers to consider requests for religious accommodation. They don’t have to grant that exemption, but if they deny

you employment after denying your religious exemption claim, they will be in jeopardy of denying your religious rights and freedoms which can serve as the basis of a legal claim.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and nine other state attorneys general filed a lawsuit on 10/29/2021 challenging the Biden’s federal vaccine mandate. In September, President Biden announced his mandate that federal workers and people receiving federal contracts will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 22 or lose Federal funding.

Missouri and Nebraska are leading the lawsuit but were joined by the attorneys general of Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt stated in a news release, “If the federal government attempts to unconstitutionally exert its will and force federal contractors to mandate vaccinations, the workforce and businesses could be decimated, further exacerbating the supply chain and workforce crises, the federal government should not be mandating vaccinations, and that’s why we filed suit today — to halt this illegal, unconstitutional action.”

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson issued an executive order on Thursday:

“Governor Mike Parson announced that he has issued Executive Order 21-10 to protect the individual rights of Missourians against overreaching federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Governor Parson released the following statement regarding the Order:

"As the Governor of the State of Missouri, I stand with concerned Missourians and will do all I can to stop federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates."

"When President Biden announced his initial plans to force unconstitutional vaccine mandates, we immediately began aligning state resources for legal action. While we hoped the Biden Administration would recognize these mandates as the abuse of authority that they are, they have not, and we must now use every tool we have available to fight this federal intrusion."

"The Constitution and its historical interpretations clearly leave public health decisions to the states. The federal government has no authority to issue COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

The Biden Administration acting alone to dictate and mandate health requirements represents the kind of federal power grab the founding fathers warned us against."

"In the State of Missouri, public health decisions are left to the people to either make their own personal decisions or speak through their elected representatives in the General Assembly.

The Biden Administration's vaccine mandates undermine and deny Missourians’ their right to make personal health decisions and to speak through their elected representatives."

Parson went on to say in his Executive Order:

“All agencies, boards, commissions, and other entities within the executive branch of state government are directed to cooperate fully and timely with the Attorney General of the State of Missouri in litigation on behalf of the State of Missouri against any federally imposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate or requirement.

No agency, board, commission, or other entity within the executive branch of state government shall compel any individual to receive the COVID-19 vaccine according to federal vaccine mandates if the individual objects for religious or medical reasons.

No agency, board, commission, or other entity within the executive branch of state government shall penalize individuals or businesses for non-compliance with federally imposed COVID-19 vaccine mandates if the individual objects for religious or medical reason.”

I know that vaccines and vaccine mandates are a very contentious topic. I am not against vaccines, but people in America should have the right to choose whether they take a vaccine or not. I hope that we don’t give up our state’s rights or our personal freedoms to the overreach of the Federal government out of fear. I look forward to Schmitt’s lawsuit having its day in court and our freedoms being reasserted by the court system.