November 9, 2021
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Kansas Businesses Concerned about Unintended Consequences of Proposed Legislation
Topeka - The Kansas business community expressed concerns about legislation introduced Tuesday by the Kansas Legislature’s Special Committee on Government Overreach and the Impact of COVID-19 Mandates.
The committee will hold an informational hearing on Friday, Nov. 12th on legislation to require Kansas businesses to exempt workers from mandates if the employee has medical advice to not be vaccinated or has “sincerely held” religious beliefs opposing the vaccination. The second proposed bill would allow employees who lose their jobs because they refuse to be vaccinated or to wear a face mask to receive unemployment benefits.
Kansas Chamber President and CEO Alan Cobb said the business community would welcome the opportunity to work with state lawmakers to fight the federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate but warned of unintended consequences of the potential legislation the committee is set to consider.
“Kansas businesses by and large do not want to mandate the COVID-19 vaccination because they know it will negatively impact their workforce and compound the lack of available workers even more,” said Cobb. “Kansas businesses from the beginning of the pandemic have led the way on determining how to keep their facilities and operations safe. They continue to be the best ones to decide whether a vaccine mandate or wearing face masks are the correct approaches for their companies.”
Cobb said also concerning is the potential impact the legislation could have on the state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. Based on current vaccination rates in Kansas, the state could expect to pay out $606 million to $5.6 billion dollars in unemployment benefits to those who lose their jobs because they refuse to follow a federal government mandate or an employer's human resources policy.
“Allowing unemployment benefits as the proposed legislation recommends could cause significant financial harm to the state’s UI trust fund, negatively impact its solvency, and lead to increased taxes on the Kansas businesses who are struggling to recover from the pandemic,” said Cobb.
Cobb says the Kansas Chamber will provide testimony to the special committee at its informational hearing on Friday.