On Monday, the Arkansas Senate passed three bills designed to help some workers facing termination due to employer initiated COVID-19 vaccine mandates. But because not enough Senators supported these bills, the bills can’t become effective in time to save any jobs of those already facing an employer deadline.
Some workers have already been terminated under an October 1 deadline. Others are facing a November deadline. For the bills to help some workers both houses of the Arkansas legislature would have needed to pass the bills by a 2/3rd vote. The Senate failed to pass any of the three by that margin.
The Senate action on the three bills will keep the big corporations happy because nothing the Senate did will prevent the corporations from finishing their purge of employees who refuse the vaccine. Some politicians may even beat their chests about yet to be written federal mandates while letting Arkansas employers purge employees.
The three bills next go to the House of Representatives for consideration but nothing they do can make the bill become effective any sooner. This takes the pressure off of Representatives who were reluctant to offend the corporations. They are now free to vote for the legislation without causing it to be effective immediately which would have interfered with the corporations’ purge.
HERE IS WHAT THE SENATE PASSED:
SB739 by Senator Kim Hammer. The bill says workers who have natural immunity are exempt from the vaccine mandate. This bill offered a lifeboat to some workers while those without natural immunity were not offered any help by the bill. Unfortunately, this bill won’t help any worker under a mandate with a deadline this year. To pass the emergency clause the bill needed 24 “yes” votes. The bill was passed with only 21 votes then on a second try got 23 votes. Here is how your Senators voted on the first vote.
The two who changed their votes to a “yes” on the second vote were Senator Lance Eads and Senator Jane English. Sorry but it looks like the two Senators opposed the bill but decided on the second vote to get credit for voting for it but only after they saw it was safe to vote “yes” without the bill getting enough votes to cause the emergency clause to pass. Eads and English also voted against the other two bills, SB720 and SB732.
SB720 by Senator Trent Garner. The bill says workers terminated solely for not being vaccinated are eligible for unemployment benefits. Corporations are claiming failure to submit to the vaccines equals employees voluntarily leaving their job and they are not eligible for unemployment benefits. The bill needed 24 votes for the emergency clause to pass. It only got 20 “yes” votes. Here is how your Senator voted.
SB732 by Senator Blake Johnson. The bill says it prohibits employer coercion of employees to get them to take the COVID-19 vaccine. From our analysis of the bill, we couldn’t tell that the bill would have accomplished anything. This bill also passed the Senate with 21 “yes” votes but 24 votes would have been needed for the bill to become effective immediately. Here is how your Senator voted.
THE BILL THAT MAY NEVER BE CONSIDERED
SB731 by Senator Bob Ballinger. This bill offers the most protection to the most workers. It would create a right of privacy and prohibit employers from asking about an employee’s vaccination status. This was the first bill on the Senate agenda but Senator Ballinger asked that it be passed over. With this bill being the only hope for most workers, will Senator Ballinger seek to pass the bill or will he decide not to run it because it does not look like enough Senators want to help workers enough to pass its emergency clause. We think the bill should be run and passed.