West Virginia lawmaker Craig Blair compares federal COVID-19 vaccine rule to Nazi Germany – CBS Pittsburgh

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CHARLESTON, West Virginia (AP) – The President of the West Virginia Senate compared the US government regulations on COVID-19 vaccines for businesses to Nazi Germany as the Republican-controlled Senate narrowly passed on Tuesday a bill to limit employers in their ability to demand that workers be vaccinated against the virus.

The proposal, which would allow certain medical and religious exemptions to companies’ COVID-19 vaccine mandates, was passed 17-16 after more than two hours of debate. A senator was absent. The bill must now be reconciled with a version that has already been passed by the House of Delegates.

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A separate attempt to make the bill effective upon passage failed in the Senate.

Republican Governor Jim Justice added the bill to the special session of the Legislature last week.

Under the bill, a doctor or nurse can provide signed documentation indicating that the employee has a physical condition that prevents them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine safely, or that the worker has recovered from COVID -19 and may show that he has antibodies against the virus. The worker can also present to his employer a notarized certificate for a religious exemption.

The bill covers businesses and state government agencies. Employers would be prohibited from penalizing or discriminating against current or potential employees for applying the exemptions.

Speaking in favor of the bill, Senate Speaker Craig Blair said he was fully vaccinated against the virus and encouraged others to get vaccinated as well, but that should be a matter of personal choice.

Turning his attention to the upcoming federal government vaccine regulations covering the millions of Americans in companies with 100 or more workers, Blair said, “Frankly, I think it is reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

“Our federal government is using federal dollars to compel the citizens of this country to obey the state. Ladies and gentlemen, whether you are for us or against us, this is a problem.

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The comment prompted an immediate rebuke from Mike Pushkin, a Democrat in the House of Delegates who is Jewish.

Blair “just compared the demands of vaccine work to ‘Nazi Germany’ in the Senate. His remarks are not only irresponsible and offensive, they are downright stupid, ”Pushkin wrote on Twitter. “He just trivialized the killing of millions while downplaying the deaths of hundreds of thousands” during the coronavirus pandemic.

Several doctors who are senators opposed the bill. Marshall County Republican Mike Maroney, a radiologist, called it “the biggest junk I’ve ever seen.”

Kanawha County Republican Respirator Tom Takubo said the state government shouldn’t tell businesses how to run their affairs. He also said nurses and doctors have patients with weakened immune systems.

“Freedom doesn’t go any further, as long as it doesn’t bleed on someone else’s freedom,” Takubo said. “Once you’ve done that, I don’t call it freedom anymore. “

Dozens of companies, including hospitals, banks and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, have told lawmakers they are strongly opposed to the bill.

The West Virginia University Health System, the state’s largest private employer, is requiring its more than 20,000 employees to be fully immunized against the coronavirus by October 31. And a Nov. 6 deadline is looming for nearly 8,000 Charleston Area Medical Center employees to provide documentation on the COVID-19 vaccine.

More than 4,100 people have died from the virus in West Virginia since the start of the pandemic.

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(Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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