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The legislature has passed a bill, Senate File 610, prohibiting the state or its subdivisions, from including information on whether the holder has received a vaccination for COVID-19, on any identification card. In addition, the bill provides that most businesses or governmental entities shall not require a customer, patron, client, patient, or other person who is invited onto the premises of the businesses or governmental entities, to furnish proof of having received a COVID-19 vaccination. The bill does not prohibit a business or governmental entity from implementing a COVID-19 screening process that does not require proof of vaccination for COVID-19. No state grants or contracts shall be awarded to any business or governmental entity that violates the bill. The bill does not mention employees. 

For purposes of the bill, “business” includes for-profit or non-profit businesses, but not health care facilities. “Government entity” means the state or any political subdivision of the state that owns, leases, or operates buildings under control of the state or political division, but does not include a health care facility. There are people who think health care facilities should also be covered. I do not believe a bill including health care facilities would have passed. The question for those people then: is this bill is better than no bill?     

The House has passed the bill so it goes into effect when signed by the governor. 

Of course, this bill only applies to the State of Iowa. You may need proof of vaccination if you travel to another state, especially if you fly.  

Economic Growth Slows

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the economy added 266,000 new jobs in April. The unemployment rate was 6.1%, roughly the same as March. There were 9.8 million unemployed, about the same as March. The labor force participation rate was “little changed” at 61.7%. The disturbing part was that most observers expected huge gains in employment, around 900,000 on average. For example, the New York Times stated that “Economists had forecast an addition of about a million jobs.” 

So, what happened? Some observers speculate that the generous benefits coming from the federal government are taking away some of the incentive that people might otherwise have to go back to work. Again, quoting the New York Times, a source that would not go out of its way to make the administration look bad: “Several have blamed what they call overly generous government jobless benefits, including a temporary $300-a-week federal stipend that was part of an emergency pandemic relief program. 

“But there are other forces constraining the return to work. Millions of Americans have said that health concerns and child care responsibilities — with many schools and day care centers not back to normal operations — have prevented them from returning to work.”

By the way, Iowa’s unemployment rate was 3.7% in March. We don’t have April numbers yet.

Author: Julian Garrett