Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana would prohibit state and local government agencies from refusing to issue licenses, permits and degrees or barring access to public facilities to someone who isn't vaccinated against COVID-19 under a bill that started advancing Monday in the state House.

Republican Rep. Kathy Edmonston, of Gonzales, said she proposed the measure to avoid discrimination against people who choose not to get vaccinated. Opponents said no such government vaccination mandates exist in Louisiana and suggested bill supporters were spreading false narratives about the risks of the vaccine.

The House civil law committee sent the bill to the full House for debate with an 8-3 vote.

Without objection, the panel also backed a separate measure by Republican Rep. Danny McCormick, of Oil City, that would give employers a broad exemption from civil lawsuits if they don't require workers or customers to get the coronavirus vaccine and someone contracts COVID-19.

McCormick's proposal also would prohibit state and local government agencies from refusing to give a permit, business license or professional license to someone based solely on a business' decision that it won't require the coronavirus vaccine for employees or customers.

He heavily rewrote the bill to win committee support. The measure heads to the full House for more debate.

Initially, McCormick proposed to declare that any business or entity that requires a coronavirus vaccine for entry into a building, employment or school admission would be liable for civil damages if anyone had injuries or death related to the vaccination. But he faced pushback for that idea.


The bills are filed as House Bills 103 and 498.