Full Interview Transcript
Leah Wilson: Hello, Indiana. I wanted to hop on here and send you a quick message about the “Indiana Vote for Health Freedom Guide for 2022.”
The 2022 Elections are yet another chance for us to make a difference together. Over the last year, our movement has grown from 3,500 users taking action with Stand for Health Freedom, to now over 20,000. Nationally, we are half a million.
I want to emphasize the progress in the last year that we have made together, so that we see the 2022 vote as yet another way to unify and to expand health freedom in Indiana.
So let’s review progress that we have had this year before we talk about the use of the Voter Guide.
Together in Indiana, we have collectively sent nearly 50,000 messages from constituent to policy maker, or to a leader in a general assembly, or at the Governor’s Office asking for vaccine status protections for workers in Indiana. On the heels of that, we saw HB 1001 authored and vaccine protections made the top priority and buzz in the Statehouse which was a massive opportunity for education.
Then we had Jake Teshka, a State Representative from Saint Joseph County, along with our team, we helped organize an open forum between the lawmakers and Stand for Health Freedom at the Statehouse Downtown to discuss what we wanted to see with HB 1001, and what those lawmakers were seeing as necessary for HB 1001.
After that, our team worked tirelessly with HB 1001 authors to include contractors, subcontractors, interns, students and every worker, whether paid or unpaid, within the vaccine status protections, and that amendment did stay in the final bill.
Our team also worked on your behalf and got HB 1001 amended to include the least invasive testing wording. The author added that amendment in the House, and then the Senate took it out. And then the author, again, fought for that to be included on Second Reading, and the Senate, which whatever that’s worth, the technical terms don’t really matter, but in the end, the amendment was included to allow for the least invasive means of testing.
HB 1001 again, Teshka authored an amendment for all Indiana colleges and universities to be covered under the “Mandate Exemption Protections” that were in the top part of that bill. That was at our request. Unfortunately, the amendment did not have enough support, but getting it authored was a big step in the right direction, especially to make our priorities known and to educate on the need for protections at the university level.
Stand for Health Freedom curated a powerful group of advocates to share their personal testimony at the Statehouse during all three public hearings for HB 1001, and our testimony was impactful, and several legislators spoke with us afterward, telling us how helpful the testimony was in educating them on the need for protections in the State of Indiana when it comes to workplace vaccine mandates.
Then we got to the Senate with the same bill, HB 1001, and Doriot authored an amendment to expand religious freedom for workers as it relates to the COVID-19 vaccine decision because it had been taken out in the Senate Committee. We then personally spoke, our Leadership at Stand for Health Freedom did, with a majority of Senate Republicans and confirmed or whipped their votes in support of the amendment to make sure that religious freedom protected workers in Indiana.
However, Leadership did block that amendment, and when they did block the amendment from coming to the floor, Senator Doriot wrote a public letter thanking Stand for Health Freedom Leadership, and then removed his name from the bill as a senate sponsor.
Stand for Health Freedom successfully educated a majority of legislators about the importance of the role of natural immunity and informed choice with workers’ vaccine decision, and also helped ensure that this exemption option remained viable from the start when many lawmakers wanted to take it out altogether.
Jake Teshka and the House also authored a bill amendment to say that the Health Department cannot require government authorities to adopt COVID measures. Senator Tomes drafted and filed SB-114 for the 2022 Legislative Session which included Stand for Health Freedom’s non-discrimination language to protect workers and community members from losing privileges or employment based on their vaccine status. This bill being drafted and filed definitely provides a framework for future progress, for future education and initiatives as we continue to show up and make sure that vaccine protections are a part of the framework in Indiana Law.
On a local level, Stand for Health Freedom empowered a dozen school board groups to form and to petition their boards to change COVID policies in our elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to lobbying the public school boards, we also empowered those individuals to show up at the Health Department and to the County Commissioners for the school issues.
On a national level, one win was that when Pfizer filed the application for the extension of the Emergency Use Authorization for zero to four years old, we called for action and said, “Go to the Public Register through our database and say that we need more data. We need the FDA to do its job and make sure our kids are safe before authorization.” SHF was 21,000 of the 43,000 comments on that Public Register, and Pfizer then withdrew the application for EUA extension for lack of data.
Now, here we are today, friends. How do we build on this progress? Voting is one of our strongest tools as the people’s lobby, as the grassroots movement. So we support our allies in the Statehouse, and we support our allies that are currently in their seats in government for health freedom, and then we vote in more new allies.
We had 61 Indiana lawmakers fill out the Stand for Health Freedom survey. This is the first time we’ve ever run a “Vote for Health Freedom Initiative.” So that was an amazing response. We also have had 581 lawmakers from around the nation fill out the survey for their primary elections in the other states that we work with.
I want to re-emphasize that 50,000 touches from constituents to lawmakers and other positions of influence, this year alone, is very significant. Each call to action from Stand for Health Freedom resulted in several thousand e-mails per lawmaker’s inbox. Our presence was felt at every turn over the last few years.
Dozens of incumbent legislators have come to Stand for Health Freedom asking for endorsement because they know that it means something. They know that the voters want to see the expansion of health freedom in Indiana. Stand for Health Freedom only endorses lawmakers or candidates with the strongest health freedom stances—only if communication is frequent, open and direct with their constituents, and only incumbents with proven track records for following through on their promises to the voters.
The primaries in Indiana are crucial to our mission. We need you to show up. We need you to encourage ten of your friends to show up on May 3rd too, to vote in the primaries.
So please share our guide and support these candidates, and together, we will make a difference as we vote for health freedom.