Indiana Sen. Braun backs businesses setting vaccine rules

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Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., arrives to vote on an appropriations bill that funds the government through Feb. 18 and avoids a short-term shutdown after midnight Friday, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana senator heading a congressional fight against President Joe Biden’s proposed federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates said Wednesday he was against state-level efforts to block businesses from imposing their own workplace vaccination requirements.

Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, who owns a Jasper-based auto parts distribution company, told reporters he didn’t believe in government mandates requiring or prohibiting actions by businesses.

“Individuals and businesses should have that decision to make on their own,” Braun said. “I understand the desire to do it. I’m a little apprehensive on that happening simply because of what it might mean to where you try to impact businesses in their own decisions on other issues down the road.”

That stance puts Braun at odds with many Republican state lawmakers who are backing a measure that would force Indiana businesses to accept broad exemptions for religious or medical reasons from employees to any workplace vaccination requirements. An effort for fast-track approval of that prohibition failed last month, but an Indiana House committee is set to hold a public hearing on it Dec. 16 and the Legislature could take action on it once the new legislative session starts Jan. 4.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has opposed limiting the actions of private employers and several business and medical groups have argued against it.

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