This past week, Indiana lawmakers failed to reach a consensus in an effort to rush through legislation enacting a statewide ban on vaccine mandates.

That was a good stroke of luck for Hoosiers, and lawmakers should not be hasty to try to pick up the fumble and force it across the line when they reconvene for their normal session on Jan. 4.

In response to federal pushes to mandate vaccines on large employers with 100 or more employees, the Republican supermajority General Assembly was poised to strike back in an effort to enact a law stopping employers from enforcing such a rule.

After a single day of testimony held last Tuesday, lawmakers were supposed to convene on Monday to shove the bill through. But the GOP announced they were shelving the idea, at least for now. Word is, even with overpowering majorities in both houses, they didn’t have the votes to ensure it got done during the off-session meeting.

IT’S KIND OF IRONIC, that in response to a vaccine mandate, Hoosier lawmakers were going to legislate a mandate against mandates.

The idea got pushback from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, which usually aligns well with conservative policies of the state, but not in this case.

Chamber Executive Director Kevin Brinegar was one of the people testifying against the bill on Tuesday.

While the Chamber opposed implementation of a large-scale blanket vaccine mandate on Hoosier businesses, it likewise opposes an even-larger blanket mandate in the opposite direction.

“Ideally, state government — as well as federal — would have stayed out of what private businesses can and cannot do regarding requiring COVID-19 vaccines for their workers, visitors and patients,” Brinegar said in a Chamber mailer sent after the marathon session. “Employers are in the best position of knowing what’s best for the safety of those in their workplace.”

If Indiana conservatives feel that the federal government is overreaching in requiring Hoosiers to get vaccinated — and they do as Gov. Eric Holcomb gave his blessing to pursue legal action and Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita salivates at any reason under the sun to file lawsuits against the Biden administration — isn’t it also an overreach to declare the businesses can’t require vaccines?

Businesses have a prevailing interest in the health and wellness of their employees. Workers who miss work — or worse die — from an illness that can be controlled with a vaccine are lost productivity and lost capital.

INDIANA HAS ALREADY lost about 4,700 Hoosiers between the ages of 20 and 70 to COVID-19, most of whom were likely a part of the workforce when they died. It’s certainly not helping the state’s labor shortage as hundreds more continue to die each month this year.

Indiana is still one of the least vaccinated states in the U.S. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are surging again. We know most of the new virus activity is still occurring among the state’s unvaccinated cohort, despite the split in the state now sitting at about 50/50.

If lawmakers are displeased with the federal government’s mandate, there are already channels the state is pursuing to fight that.

But declaring that no employer can mandate vaccines for its workers is an overreach, overreaction and an error.

If the federal government is wrong to mandate for vaccines, the state would be wrong to mandate against them.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Indiana legislators should drop the vaccine mandate ban come January and leave it dropped while legal cases advance at the federal level.
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