N.C. House Republicans want to make sure Gov. Roy Cooper doesn’t have the power to mandate COVID-19 vaccines — although the governor has never suggested that he’d issue such an order.
House Bill 572 started off as a bill to prevent franchise companies from requiring their franchise owners to have personal protective equipment — such as face masks — that exceed requirements in state law.
Rep. Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort, sponsored the bill. He owns an H&R Block tax prep franchise, and while he’s a strong opponent of face masks, the company has a mask mandate in its offices.
But in the House Health Committee on Thursday, Kidwell introduced a new version of the bill. It would ban the governor from mandating vaccines or penalizing people who don’t get one.
And it would prevent state agencies from requiring vaccinations as a condition to obtain a license.
“The governor has no say in what I put in my body,” Kidwell said. “It’s all about freedom, people.”
Cooper is encouraging North Carolina residents to get vaccinated, with a goal of having two-thirds of the adult population vaccinated before ending the indoor mask mandate. But he’s never suggested that the government should make it mandatory.
Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, said the bill is “unworkable,” because any such mandate from the governor would need the approval of the Council of State. “There are instances where I am a danger to other people,” she said. “Someone has to take care of the safety of the community.”
The bill passed both the House Health Committee and the Rules Committee on Thursday and is expected to get a floor vote in the House on Monday.
HB 572 is one of two vaccine-related bills moving in the House this week. House Bill 686 says that government workers for all state and local agencies — as well as applicants for those jobs — would have “the right to refuse any of the coronavirus vaccines without being subjected to termination or retaliation.”
That bill passed its first committee hurdle this week and is awaiting a hearing from the House Health Committee.
For more North Carolina government and politics news, listen to the Domecast politics podcast from The News & Observer and the NC Insider. You can find it on Megaphone, Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.