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Bill to protect people against vaccine discrimination fails

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 6:33 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Lawmakers at the Louisiana State Capitol heard a bill Wednesday, May 26, that would have protected someone hesitant of getting the COVID vaccine from being denied access to certain state-funded facilities.

In a narrow 7-6 vote, House and Governmental Affairs put an end to a bill by Sen. Stewart Cathey Jr. (R-Monroe), which would have protected people from being denied access to any state-funded facilities just because they did not get a COVID vaccine.

“For us to tell people that, ‘Hey, you can’t go watch LSU play football in the fall or you can’t go watch our best friends’ children graduate from junior high in the spring because we don’t have a COVID vaccine while it’s in an emergency use authorization.’ I just think that’s wrong,” said Cathey.

Cathey explained how he’s already had COVID in the past and that there’s a lot of questions about what the vaccines do to a person’s ability to have children, despite the CDC saying there is no evidence that any of the COVID vaccines affect fertility.

“And so, I’ve made the conscious decision that, ‘Hey, because I want to have children, I’m not gonna take the vaccine and my girlfriend has done the same thing,’” Cathey added.

But opponents of the bill, like Representative Rodney Lyons (D-Harvey), said they had COVID already as well but that individual facilities should decide what’s in their own best for themselves and their employees.

“My exposure was here in this building with some of my colleagues and people I deal with every day here,” said Lyons.

One concerned mom also showed up to oppose the idea.

“This bill limits the liberties and decision makings of many people,” said Jennifer Herricks of Mandeville. “It’s hard enough to keep my family safe without the legislature taking away tools from the people who can help.”

But similar efforts are still hanging on. A bill by Representative Kathy Edmonston (R-Gonzales) would prohibit state and local agencies from refusing to issue licenses, permits, and degrees or denying access to public facilities. Her bill passed the House floor in a 70-30 vote and is waiting to be heard in the Senate.

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