(The Center Square) – North Carolina House lawmakers have filed legislation to prohibit schools and public employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccines, face coverings and quarantine requirements.
In yet a second round of legislation promoting personal freedom versus government control, Republicans want to prevent a repeat of the pandemic era. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, alongside Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen, instituted restrictions that led to poor performances in school, business closures, and workers fired for their medical decisions.
The Medical Freedom Act, or House Bill 98, would prevent state, county and city officials from requiring COVID-19 vaccines as a condition of employment, and would specifically outlaw discrimination based on vaccination status. The legislation would further ban public K-12 schools, colleges and universities from requiring students to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Other prohibited health requirements in the bill state “governing bodies of public school units shall not adopt any policies regarding the use of face coverings,” and “governing bodies of public school units shall not quarantine healthy students.”
“If a public school unit violates this section, the student subject to the violation or that student’s parent may bring a civil action against the governing body of the public school unit,” HB98 reads. “A student or parent that prevails on a claim for a violation of this section shall be entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs.”
The bill would extend the same prohibited health requirements to the State Board of Education. It is sponsored by Republican Reps. Brian Biggs of Randolph County, Jon Hardister of Guilford County, Neal Jackson of Moore County, and Donny Lambeth of Forsyth County.
HB98 includes aspects of legislation approved by the General Assembly last year that was vetoed by Cooper. The governor kept the Old North State in a state of emergency, with varying degrees of restrictions, for 888 days.
Cooper vetoed Senate Bill 173, known as the Free the Smiles Act, which would have allowed parents to decide whether their children need face coverings in school. The former state attorney general from Nash County said the legislation “is dangerous and could tie the hands of public health officials in the future.”
Lawmakers attempted to override Cooper’s veto of SB173, but that effort failed with a vote of 27-22.
In the most recent midterm elections, Republicans expanded their supermajority in the Senate and came one seat shy of the same in the House. The situation means that if Republicans are united, only one Democrat vote in the House would be required to override a Cooper veto.