Arkansas panel OKs agencies enforcing vaccine requirement
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers on Friday cleared the way for state-run health care facilities to require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine after officials warned that blocking the move would jeopardize more than $700 million in federal funding.
The Arkansas Legislative Council effectively approved the request by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Veterans Affairs to comply with the federal vaccine requirement.
The chairman of the panel declared the requests reviewed without any members voting to block the move.
The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month allowed the federal vaccine requirement for health workers to move forward, the same day it blocked another rule that would have required workers at big companies to get vaccinated or face regular COVID testing requirements.
The requirement conflicts with an Arkansas law enacted banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates by government entities. But that law allows the state-run medical facilities to request exemptions from the council, the legislative’s main governing body when lawmakers aren’t in session.
The council in November delayed taking up the agencies’ requests after lawmakers said they wanted to see how the courts would rule.
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