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Legislation from 2021

TL;DR -  2021 Legislative Session (ended in March 2021)

​TL;DR- We think all of these bills are positive, but some stood a much better chance of actually passing into law than others. Only SB8 advanced in the 2021 session. All other bills are "dead."

Bills to Watch

​The 2021 Kentucky General Assembly convened on January 5 and will conduct official business on 30 different days. The session will likely conclude sometime in March. Below you will find information on all the bills that we are currently watching. This page will be updated as new bills are introduced.

Overall, we feel that all the bills we are watching are decent bills that would have a positive impact if passed. Realistically, though, not all these bills will pass. We start out by listing the bills that we feel may have the best chances of becoming law. 

Best chance of passing the legislature

Senate Bill 8 (SB8) - M. Wilson- AN ACT relating to exceptions to mandatory immunization requirements and *declaring an emergency.

CURRENT STATUS: Became law without the Governor's signature

This bill, in its current form, addresses the "epidemic" language in KRS 214.036 that currently states, “in the event of an epidemic in a given area, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services may, by emergency regulation, require the immunization of all persons within the area of epidemic, against the disease responsible for such epidemic.” SB8 adds exemptions for medical, religious, or conscientiously held beliefs.

What has been changed so far: While going through the Senate Health & Welfare Committee, this bill was amended to remove the language that would have added philosophical exemptions based on conscientiously held beliefs to the existing medical and religious exemptions for daycare and K-12 vaccine requirements. The current medical and religious exemptions for school children remain intact, and SB8 does not add or take away anything from this area. It does make a few technical changes, such as changing current language on medical exemptions to say that they can be granted by the child's "physician" to the child's "health care provider."

This bill was first filed as SB28, then withdrawn and filed again as SB8. This is an unusual occurrence, but we think it gives a strong indication that this bill will advance. It is common for bills with single digit numbers to represent “priority” bills. Additionally, SB8 has already been assigned to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, which is the first step in the process. In any other year, this would not be a notable action. However, for 2021 the rules of both chambers have been changed so that bills do not have to be given a committee assignment. If a bill is never given a committee assignment, it is dead on arrival.
 
While we would prefer to see this “epidemic” language completely stricken from KRS 214.036, we feel that this approach in SB8 is a reasonable compromise that does not remove any abilities from the Cabinet of Health and Family Services, yet it addresses concerns by allowing exemptions. We also fully support the addition of conscientious exemptions to current KY law.

See details and read the full bill at https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/record/21rs/SB8.html
(Click on the link for Current to see the full bill text.)

Second Tier

We feel that bills in this "second tier" section could advance based on what we know so far.
UPDATE: None of the bills passed in 2021.

​Senate Bill 117 (SB117) – A. Southworth - AN ACT relating to exceptions to immunization requirements and *declaring an emergency.

CURRENT STATUS: Assigned to Senate Education Committee.

This bill specifically addresses postsecondary educational institutions (public and private colleges and universities) and healthcare facilities. The bill says that these institutions can mandate vaccinations, but that they must allow for medical, religious, and conscientious exemptions, as well as the ability to refuse for any reason after being fully informed of the health risks.

While it may seem counterintuitive to support legislation that allows any entity to mandate vaccines, these entities are already doing this under federal OSHA guidelines. However, these entities do not currently consistently allow employees or students a mechanism to opt out. This bill would solidify, in statute, that students at all postsecondary educational institutions and employees at all healthcare facilities would have a right to be exempt from mandatory vaccination.
Our main criticism of this bill is that it only protects postsecondary students and employees of a healthcare facility. There are still many other employment sectors that require the same statutory rights.

This bill was filed with eight co-sponsors in addition to the primary sponsor, which shows that it has considerable support among the Senate majority.

See the details and read the full bill at https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/record/21rs/sb117.html  (Click on the link for Introduced to see the full bill text.)

Other bills

These bills, although they have favorable content, have a lesser chance of advancing.
​UPDATE: None of the bills passed in 2021.

House Bill 36 (HB36)- S. Maddox - AN ACT relating to ensuring basic liberties regarding immunizations and *declaring an emergency.

CURRENT STATUS: There has been no movement on this bill. It is considered to be dead.

This bill eliminates language from KRS 214.036 that would allow the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to vaccinate "all persons" in the event of an "epidemic." This bill was pre-filed as BR 301 months before many of the other vaccine related bills. As such, it received quite a bit of attention and many of you contacted your legislators regarding this bill.
Despite HB36 now having 15 co-sponsors, there is no indication that this bill will advance. We suspect that this may be due to a preference for some of the bills that have been filed in the Senate.

See the details and read the full bill at https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/record/21rs/HB36.html
(Click on the link for Introduced to see the full bill text.)
 
House Bill 101 (HB101)- M. Hart - AN ACT prohibiting vaccination requirements for postsecondary education students.

CURRENT STATUS: There has been no movement on this bill. It is considered to be dead.

​This bill would completely ban a college or university from requiring any student to be vaccinated in order to attend the school, with an exception for students in healthcare programs.

While this bill seems positive at the outset, it has many potential grey areas. For example, a school would not have to require vaccination for enrollment, but they could require vaccination for a student to be permitted on the campus. We expect that all Kentucky postsecondary institutions will voice strong opposition to this bill. This bill currently has two co-sponsors.

See the details and read the full bill at https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/record/21rs/HB101.html
(Click on the link for Introduced to see the full bill text.)

Senate Bill 37 (SB37) - R. Girdler - AN ACT relating to immunization and *declaring an emergency.

CURRENT STATUS: Referred to Senate Health & Welfare Committee. Unlikely to be heard.

This bill is, which was pre-filed as BR 418, is partially identical to HB 36 and would strike the “epidemic” language from KRS 214.036. It goes further by adding language to prohibit required immunization of any employee by any employer.
We like that this bill would protect all employees. However, we know that this language will draw broad opposition from many employment sectors including healthcare. This bill does not currently have any co-sponsors.

See the details and read the full bill at
https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/record/21rs/SB37.html
(click on the link for Introduced to see the full bill text.)

Senate Bill 98 (SB 98) - A. Southworth- AN ACT relating to immunizations.

CURRENT STATUS: Referred to Senate Health & Welfare Committee

SB98 takes an interesting approach to protect employees from mandatory vaccination by tackling the topic in employment discrimination statutes. This bill would ban discrimination against applicants or employees based on their vaccination status. It would also ban the requirement of vaccines as a condition of employment.
As with SB37, we like that this bill would protect all employees. However, we know that this language will draw broad opposition from many employment sectors including healthcare. This bill currently has two co-sponsors.

See the details and read the full bill at
https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/record/21rs/sb98.htm

Take action

The most powerful action you can take is to contact your state legislators regarding these bills. There are many ways to make contact, and we've outlined those for you here.


*In this context, declaring an emergency means that this bill, if passed, it would take effect more quickly than a bill without this provision.


Kentucky Medical Freedom Coalition   |   P.O. Box 43276 Louisville KY 40243

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