JACKSON • The state Senate on Wednesday passed a House bill that would ban private companies and state agencies from requiring COVID-19 vaccination of employees if they have sincerely held religious beliefs.
After intense debate, the Mississippi Senate on Wednesday passed HB 1509 on a 36-16 party line vote, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats opposing the measure. The bill also passed the House in January on a party line vote.
But the Senate went a step further than their House counterparts and added a provision that would prohibit public and private school districts from requiring children to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition to enroll in classes.
“The Senate passed a strong, conservative bill which protects employees and children attending school in Mississippi from a COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said. “I personally support a broader bill providing a religious exemption for vaccine requirements for schools and will support that provision when it is properly before the Senate.”
Mississippi has some of the most stringent vaccine requirements for children enrolling in public schools. Current immunization laws for children do not allow exemptions for religious, philosophical, or conscientious reasons.
Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, attempted to change this by amending the bill to extend religious objects to all of the state’s vaccine requirements — not just for the COVID-19 vaccine.
But Hosemann, the presiding officer of the Senate, ruled that McDaniel’s amendment did not pertain to the bill at hand, and he tossed it out from consideration among the entire Senate chamber.
Sen. Chad McMahan, R-Guntown, also offered amendments that would allow a medical-condition exemption to any vaccine mandate and ban proof of immunization as a requirement to purchase goods or services. His