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Wednesday, January 26th, 2022
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MADISON — Employees who quit or lose their jobs because of COVID-19 vaccination mandates would be eligible for unemployment under a bill moving through the legislature.

Senate Bill 547 is one of three measures that provide employees protections in the pandemic era, and all are slated for a public hearing next week.

The Senate Labor and Regulatory Reform committee has scheduled the hearing for 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Capitol.

Workers who are fired for just cause or quit their jobs without good cause are not eligible for state unemployment benefits. The legislation would remove the restrictions for individuals who leave their jobs or are fired because they refuse to get a COVID shot.

Senate Bill 721, opens up worker’s compensation to employees who are injured or can’t work because of health complications from the vaccine.

And Senate Bill 662 requires natural immunity to be accepted as proof of a vaccination or COVID test.

“We’re seeing more and more governments and private sector employers trying to ignore natural immunity,” said Mike Mikalsen, legislative aide to Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), co-author of the bills and chairman of the Labor and Regulatory Reform committee. “This puts into state law the clear understanding of what the science is, and that is if you’ve had COVID you have natural immunity.”

Natural immunity levels can vary, but it is proven to stave off infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stress that vaccines offer more consistent level of protection. Still, that protection is now stipulated on booster injections because COVID is widely spreading to those who have had the first round of shots.

Mikalsen said all three measures are “fallback bills.” Proposals that would bar COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the government sector and vax passports have been stuck in another Senate committee.

“These are commonsense bills. We shouldn’t be having mandates at all,” Mikalsen said. “Until those bills are resolved … it’s only fair to individuals, particularly in circumstances where they are being forced to take the COVID vaccination” to have the protections in place.

Mikalsen said Nass would like to see the bills pass out of committee by the end of the year, and taken up on the Senate floor in the January floor session.

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