State Watch

Montana legislature passes bill to prohibit employers requiring a vaccine

The Montana legislature has passed a bill prohibiting employers from requiring that their workers get a particular vaccine.

The legislation, House Bill 702, makes it unlawful for employers to refuse or bar employment or discriminate against a person based on whether they have been vaccinated.

It also prohibits a person or governmental entity from denying goods, services or employment opportunities based on vaccination status. Further, it prevents a public accommodation from limiting or excluding people based on whether they have been vaccinated.

The legislation clarifies that these requirements do not prohibit employers or governmental entities from recommending employees get vaccinated. It also doesn’t apply to vaccination requirements from schools or day care facilities.

The Montana House passed the measure on Monday by a 67-32 vote, after the Senate passed it 32-18 on Friday, according to records on the state legislature’s website.

The legislation now heads to Gov. Greg Gianforte’s (R) desk for his signature. It would take effect on July 1.

While the bill doesn’t specifically mention COVID-19 vaccines in its text, it prevents people from being required to receive “any vaccine whose use is allowed under an emergency use authorization or any vaccine undergoing safety trials.”

The three coronavirus vaccines currently in use in the United States— one from Pfizer and BioNTech; one from Moderna; and one from Johnson & Johnson — have all received such emergency authorizations from the Food and Drug Administration.

The measure appears to be targeted at a health system accused of requiring employers to get vaccinated. According to The Associated Press, some who supported it were employees of Benefits Health System who claimed they were told to get vaccinated to continue working.

A spokesperson for Benefits Health System declined to comment to AP on the bill’s passage.

The Hill has reached out Benefits for comment.

The measure comes amid a larger conversation around businesses requiring vaccination or proof of vaccination against COVID-19, which has garnered staunch backlash from conservatives.

The Montana Senate on Friday shot down a measure that would specifically ban “immunity passports,” according to The Billings Gazette.

State Watch