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Senate committee to hear anti-vaccine mandate bills today

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

The Senate General Fund budget committee will meet this afternoon and is likely to pass at least one of the several Senate bills pushing back against a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal workers and large companies.

There are now more than 12 such bills in the Legislature, including five filed in the House on Friday despite Speaker Mac McCutcheon’s statement Thursday that this special session on redistricting isn’t the place to handle the issue.

The Senate committee will meet after adjournment of that chamber today, but an agenda of bills hasn’t been made public as of early this morning.

“The issue will be addressed in the committee meeting and our plan is to get something out so we can have something on the floor Tuesday,” chairman Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range, told Alabama Daily News on Sunday.

Alabama joined with a coalition of other states in a lawsuit filed late Friday challenging the vaccine mandate on federal contractors, the Associated Press reported. The lawsuit is part of Republican-led efforts to oppose the federal requirements.

Alabama has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country with just 44.7% of the population fully vaccinated, compared to a national average of 58%. In announcing the rules in September, President Joe Biden said the unvaccinated were hindering the nation’s recovery, the AP reported.

Albritton said not all the Legislature’s anti-mandate bills can be passed, but the committee will look for the “most effective action, not just window dressing.”

Some Alabama companies began letting employees go last week over the mandates, including 200 workers at Austal in Mobile on Friday.

Albritton said anything the Legislature does will lead to a court battle, “but we have to try to do something.”

Lawmakers are on a tight timeline with the special session expected to end late this week.

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