Legislative Updates – Pray for America's Leaders

Legislative Updates

Arkansas | October 5, 2021

Arkansas Senate replies to shot mandate; 3 bills would limit effects of job policy

Arkansas | October 5, 2021

The Arkansas Senate on Monday passed three bills targeting employer-mandated coronavirus vaccinations, as a contentious debate over pandemic-related measures overshadowed congressional redistricting once again on the 114th day of the 2021 regular session.

Senate Bill 739 by Sen. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, would require employers that mandate vaccinations to provide an exemption process for workers, including requiring them to produce a negative antigen test once a week or proof of immunity including the presence of antibodies twice a year.

Senate Bill 730 by Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, would make people who leave their jobs because of their refusal to be vaccinated against covid-19 eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

Senate Bill 732 by Sen. Blake Johnson, R-Corning, would prohibit a business, person or any other legal or commercial entity from coercing someone to receive a vaccination or immunization from covid-19 under certain conditions…. (Excerpts from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

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Arkansas, District of Columbia | September 9, 2021

Biden plans vaccine mandates for up to 100 million Americans

Arkansas, District of Columbia | September 9, 2021

President Joe Biden on Thursday is announcing sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant that is killing thousands each week and jeopardizing the nation’s economic recovery.

The expansive rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. And the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated… (Excerpts from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

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Arkansas, Maryland, Oklahoma | August 12, 2021

Lankford, Cotton, Harris Lead Colleagues to Demand Justice for Conscience Rights of Health Care Workers

Arkansas, Maryland, Oklahoma | August 12, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD) led a bicameral group of Senators and Congressmen in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra demanding answers on why the Department of Justice (DOJ) dropped a lawsuit against the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC), which has received federal funds from HHS since 1998, for forcing a nurse to assist with an abortion procedure against the nurse’s registered conscience objections and in clear violation of long-standing federal law.

Under the Trump Administration, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) conducted an extensive investigation and referred the violation to the DOJ, which then filed a lawsuit in federal court. But now under the Biden Administration and the leadership of Secretary Becerra, HHS withdrew its request, and the DOJ dropped the lawsuit without any settlement or restitution.

“Your handling of this case is a profound miscarriage of justice and a rejection of your commitment to enforce federal conscience laws for Americans of all religious beliefs and creeds—and especially for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who object to abortion,” wrote the Members in their letter. “Your actions signal to employers all around the country that they don’t need to comply with the law because your agencies will not enforce it. They also signal that this administration would rather allow consciences to be violated at the behest of the abortion lobby rather enforce the law and protect religious liberty. We demand a full explanation of your agencies’ actions.”

Lankford continues to lead the Senate in standing up for the conscience rights of all Americans. In 2018 Lankford supported the creation of the HHS Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the OCR. Lankford introduced his Conscience Protection Act to protect health care providers and health insurers from government discrimination if they decline to participate in medical procedures, like abortion, that violate their consciences. This bill would also give health care providers a private right of action so that victims of abortion discrimination, like the nurse at UVMMC, can have their day in court even when the Obama and now Biden Administrations abandon their obligation to enforce the law. Lankford opposed Becerra to serve as HHS secretary in part because of his hostility toward conscience protections, including trying to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide contraception.

During Becerra’s confirmation hearings, Lankford pressed him on how he plans to protect Americans’ conscience rights and ensure faith-based entities receive fair treatment. Lankford questioned Becerra on why the department is working to eliminate the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the HHS OCR.

Joining Lankford, Cotton, and Harris in sending the letter are Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Steve Daines (R-MT), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Rick Scott (R-FL),  John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Lee (R-UT), John Kennedy (R-LA), Jim Risch (R-ID), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Braun (R-IN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), John Thune (R-SD), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Also joining Lankford, Cotton, and Harris are Representatives Mike Rogers (R-AL), Barry Moore (R-AL), Robert B. Aderholt (R-AL), Paul Gosar, DDS (R-AZ), Debbie Lesko  (R-AZ), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Doug LaMalfa (R-AZ), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), John Rutherford (R-FL), Kat Cammack  (R-FL), W. Gregory Steube (R-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Scott Franklin (R-FL), Earl “Buddy” Carter (R-GA), Jody Hice (R-GA), Andrew Clyde (R-GA), Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), Mike Bost (R-IL), Jim Banks (R-IN), Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN), Randy Feenstra (R-IA), Mariannette Miller-Meeks, MD (R-IA), Jake LaTurner (R-KS), Tim Walberg (R-MI), Jack Bergman (R-MI), Michael Guest (R-MS), Billy Long (R-MO), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Ted Budd (R-NC), Gregory Murphy, M.D. (R-NC), Richard Hudson  (R-NC), Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Jim Jordan  (R-OH), Robert E. Latta (R-OH), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Kevin Hern (R-OK), Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), William Timmons (R-SC), Jeff Duncan  (R-SC), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Joe Wilson (R-SC), David Kustoff (R-TN), Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Lance Gooden (R-TX), Jodey C. Arrington (R-TX), Pat Fallon (R-TX), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Randy Weber (R-TX), Pete Sessions  (R-TX), Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Ronny Jackson, MD (R-TX), Blake Moore (R-UT), Bob Good (R-VA), Ben Cline (R-VA), David McKinley (R-WV), Alex Mooney (R-WV), and Glenn Grothman (R-WI),

Additionally, the following groups support the letter: American Center for Law and Justice, Concerned Women for America LAC, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Family Policy Alliance, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Family Research Council, Americans United for Life, March for Life Action, Susan B. Anthony List, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Right to Life, American College of Pediatricians, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, Catholic Medical Association, Coptic Medical Association of North America, Alliance Defending Freedom, Religious Freedom Institute, and Heritage Action.

You can view the full text of the letter HERE and below.

Dear Attorney General Garland and Secretary Becerra,

We write to express our concerns with your coordinated decision to seek a voluntary dismissal in the lawsuit against the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC) for knowingly, willfully, and repeatedly violating federal conscience-protection laws…. (Excerpts from U.S. James Lankford)

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Arkansas | July 27, 2021

Governor plans to talk mask law with legislators

Arkansas | July 27, 2021

With Arkansas’ coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continuing to surge, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday that he plans to talk with legislative leaders today about the law that will prohibit public schools and other government entities from requiring people to wear masks when it takes effect Wednesday.

“I think from a conservative standpoint, you certainly can make the point that local school districts ought to be able to make their own decisions as to what is in the best health of their students,” Hutchinson said during a discussion with residents in Mountain Home about the coronavirus vaccines.

The governor’s comments came as the number of people hospitalized with covid-19 in Arkansas jumped Monday by 61, to 980, its highest level since late January, while the state’s count of cases rose by 621.

The state’s death toll from the virus, as tracked by the Department of Health, rose by 23, to 6,077.

It was the largest one-day increase in the toll since March 12….

(Excerpts from Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

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Arkansas, District of Columbia | July 9, 2021

Bipartisan Majority of Americans Now Believe Coronavirus Leaked from Lab: Poll

Arkansas, District of Columbia | July 9, 2021

A majority of Americans now believe that the novel coronavirus leaked from a laboratory, according to a poll by Politico and Harvard University.

The survey found that 52 percent of Americans believe coronavirus leaked from a lab, compared with 28 percent who think the pandemic started following human contact with an infected animal. Support for the lab-leak theory is bipartisan, with 52 percent of Democrat and 59 percent of Republican respondents backing the theory.

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