Each of the 15 budget bills passed by the Missouri House of Representatives last week carries a requirement to forfeit funds for violating certain COVID-19 stipulations, surprising Senate majority leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia.
“I don’t want to speak for Senator (Dan) Hegeman, but I would assume that opens up a can of worms that I’m not even sure we know the size of,” Rowden told reporters on Thursday, referring to the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman. “So we’ll talk about it. I didn’t know it was in there. But I’m not sure how we do that.”
The bills state no funds “shall be expended in support of any general admission event that requires or inquires about COVID-19 vaccination status, or COVID-19 testing unless required by Missouri state statute or a Governor’s emergency order.”
Rep. Betsy Fogle, D-Springfield, gave two scenarios where the proposed legislation would create numerous problems.
“Right now, the way it’s worded, if a veterans’ home wanted to have a bingo night and invite members of the community to come in and celebrate the veterans for their service, they could not require proof (of) vaccination, they couldn’t even inquire about proof of vaccination,” Fogle told the Springfield News-Leader. “If Missouri State (University) wanted to have a campus concert and the artist wanted to have a vaccine mandate for their show … then Missouri State would have to pay back the cost of all things associated with that concert.”
Republican Gov. Mike Parson ended all emergency orders related to the pandemic on Dec. 31, 2021, and announced Missouri was moving from a pandemic to an endemic phase on April 1. Several bills filed in the legislature would prohibit various organizations from requiring a COVID-19 vaccination, while other bills would prohibit organizations from requiring proof of vaccination.
“There’s a better way to do that if that’s what the amendment sponsor wanted to do,” Fogle said. “But the way it’s worded now, which is very problematic, I think we’ll see a lot of private businesses, institutions of higher education, long-term care facilities and veterans’ homes really struggle with how to apply that if and when we see another COVID spike, which hopefully we won’t.”
This article was originally posted on Proposed Missouri budget withholds funding for asking about COVID vaccination