State Capitol. (RI photo)

Debate of a plan to ban COVID vaccine requirements in businesses, schools and government agencies has been at least temporarily derailed in dramatic fashion in the Iowa House.

A dozen House Republicans joined with House Democrats in voting against even starting debate on an amendment that outlined the plan. The proposal would prohibit hiring and firing decisions that are based on an employee’s COVID vaccination status, unless federal regulations require it. And half of a $50,000 state fine for a COVID-related firing would be paid to the fired employee.

The proposal also would ban mask mandates for employees, visitors or customers.

A spokesperson for GOP leaders said there was an understanding that 51 Republicans would vote to starting debate that plan, but when votes were cast, there were only 48. The final vote was 48 in favor and 50 opposed.

Melissa Deatch, a spokesperson for House Speaker Pat Grassley, said it’s not clear whether that’s the final vote on the matter. “That is all going to be determined soon here,” Deatsch said, “but I don’t have any answers on that as of right now.”

Governor Reynolds asked legislators to approve new liability protections for the trucking industry and those were included in the plan that was tabled in the House earlier this evening.