fb-pixelSeven Mass. lawmakers prohibited from working at State House after refusing to prove vaccination status - The Boston Globe Skip to main content

Seven Mass. lawmakers prohibited from working at State House after refusing to prove vaccination status

The Massachusetts State House.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

At least seven Massachusetts state representatives will be barred from working at the State House after they refused to prove they’re vaccinated against COVID-19 or seek an exemption under the chamber’s vaccine mandate, House officials said Wednesday.

House Speaker Ronald Mariano’s office did not identify any of the seven lawmakers who will be required to work remotely “until they are in compliance.” Lawmakers have been allowed to participate in legislative sessions remotely amid the pandemic, a rule that will allow them to continue to cast votes even if they are prohibited from a State House that has remained closed to the public since March 2020.

Advertisement



In all, 149 of the House’s 159 members submitted proof of vaccination, and three others either sought an accommodation or are in the process of finalizing their second dose, putting 96 percent of the chamber in compliance with the mandate, Mariano’s office said.

Ninety-eight percent of the House’s 489 employees also provided proof of vaccination or requested a religious or medical accommodation by the House’s Monday deadline.

Currently, the House said only those considered “core” employees should be working physically in the State House.

The House passed its vaccination order in September, with all 129 Democrats supporting it and 28 of the chamber’s 29 Republicans voting against it. Minority Leader Bradley Jones said Wednesday he has not been told whether any of the GOP caucus’s members are not in compliance with the order but said he “would assume . . . people who voted against it don’t want to show their proof of vaccine.”

House officials said those who defy the order and work in the building while not in compliance would be subject to unspecified “discipline.” But Jones, who is vaccinated, said of Republicans he’s spoken to, none plan to challenge the rules.

Advertisement



“In the couple of instances that members of my caucus said, ‘I’m either not comfortable getting vaccinated or I’m not going to share proof of vaccination,’ they’ve quickly followed up by saying, ‘I don’t plan on being in the building in person,’ which to me is in compliance with what was outlined” in the order, the North Reading Republican said.

“People have managed to do their jobs under difficult circumstances for the past year and a half, or close to it. We’ll just continue doing that paradigm,” he said.

Representative Peter J. Durant — a Spencer Republican who cosponsored a bill that would prohibit state, and some private-sector, employers from limiting access to public buildings based on vaccination status — said lawmakers have a right to privacy. He declined to say if he was among the seven lawmakers who did not provide proof of their status, though he is vaccinated.

“I can say better than three-quarters of the reps over the past year have been participating remotely,” Durant said. “I would think it can be a viable way of participating” going forward.

The chamber is not alone in its mandate. The Senate also required its members and employees to prove they’ve been vaccinated; Senate President Karen E. Spilka said last month that 100 percent of lawmakers and staff had responded with an attestation or exemption request.

Governor Charlie Baker has also issued a mandate for the executive branch’s 42,000 employees, of which 94 percent were in compliance as of last week. More than 500 employees have since resigned, been suspended, or, in some cases, fired since Baker’s mandate took effect in mid-October, and more than 2,000 others are considered “in progress.”

Advertisement




Matt Stout can be reached at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him @mattpstout.