A Brief History of Vaccine Mandates in Iowa

October 22, 2021

Like many red or purple states, Iowa has been the subject of a public policy tug-of-war over COVID-19 vaccine mandates. ABI has been advocating for members as policymakers have been steering a course. At the end of the 2021 spring legislative session, some lawmakers wanted to prohibit employers from taking vaccine status into account when making new hires and prohibit employers from requiring that current employees receive vaccines.

ABI objected and prevailed upon members of the House and Senate to allow that such decisions be left to individual employers and avoiding a blanket mandate. Fast forward to September 8, 2021 when the Biden Administration announced an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) was being developed that would mandate that employers of more than 100 must require their employees become vaccinated and the ABI response was the same – such decisions were best left to employers and a blanket mandate should be avoided. A press release explaining the ABI position can be found here.

In the days following the Biden Administration announcement, much has been written about the ETS but no draft version exists. The Biden Administration has indicated that individual employees can avoid the mandate by supplying the results of a negative COVID-19 test weekly. Additional guidance suggests that if an employer fails to successfully implement the mandate the employer would be subject to a $14,000 per occurrence fine. A version of the U.S. House Human Infrastructure bill would up those fines to $700,000 per occurrence.

Governor Kim Reynolds and the majority caucuses of the Iowa House and Senate oppose such a government mandate on businesses and individuals and we expect a lawsuit challenging the ETS mandate to be filed immediately to stay the implementation of the mandate until legal challenges are considered. Many believe such a sweeping mandate will be struck down.

In Iowa, once the mandate is published and the inevitable lawsuits filed, the state will have 30 days to develop guidance on how businesses must implement the ETS. Your ABI public policy team will be advocating for the interests of our members throughout the process. Should you need any questions answered on the status of the process, please reach out to JD Davis.