(WISH) — The Indiana House of Representatives majority introduced legislation that would end Governor Eric Holcomb’s COVID-19 emergency order, which was put into place at the start of the pandemic.
“After more than a year and a half of Indiana being under a state of emergency, it’s time for us to end it. This legislation makes sure that will happen, and we’re prepared to move this legislation through quickly once session begins on Jan. 4,” said Rep. Chris Judy (R-Ft. Wayne).
Holcomb said he would be willing to end the emergency order if the legislature could meet certain criteria.
Those criteria include allowing eligible households to receive federal food assistance and Medicaid benefits, as well as complying with the federal government’s recommendation to vaccinate children between ages 5 and 11.
Those provisions are written into the legislation. But Democrats say it’s not the right time to be lifting this order.
“With the two variants that are coming in to our country, the number is increasing of the people that are getting COVID (and) deaths are starting to go back,” said Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis).
Democrats say the legislation is redundant, because it requires businesses to accept vaccine exemptions from employees on religious and health grounds, which most businesses already do.
“The Democratic caucus feels that this is something that we do not support, and that is actually going to put the lives of Hoosiers at risk,” said Shackleford.
Shackleford is also concerned that the bill requires businesses to foot the bill for COVID-19 testing they provide to unvaccinated employees.
“I think one of the things that’s coming up with COVID is we are coming up on political season, so you are going to see those political fights come out between the beliefs of the Republicans and the Democrats,” she said.