By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A state representative has drafted a bill that would prohibit employers from adopting vaccine requirements for their employees.
The draft is sponsored by Rep. Sue Wilson, R-Cheyenne, but hasn’t yet been assigned a bill number. Wilson told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that she began working on the bill in April after she saw news stories about the potential of vaccine mandates becoming a problem.
“I have received quite a few emails from other legislators and citizens (particularly those in healthcare jobs) who agree with the bill’s approach and do not want to see vaccine mandates,” she said.
She brought the bill to the House Labor Committee in June so the legislators could consider sponsoring it, as she and many of the other lawmakers believed they would have a special session in July to appropriate American Rescue Plan funds.
The committee voted 13-1 to sponsor the bill, but since there was no special session this summer, the legislature will consider the bill during the next session in February.
“The bill uses existing terminology and requirements from labor law and court decisions,” Wilson said. “The bill would require an employer to make reasonable accommodation for employees who do not wish to be vaccinated, unless the accommodation would create an undue hardship or pose a direct threat to health. Courts and HR offices have been threading this needle for several decades, so I felt this language was the best way to find a middle path between rights of an employee and rights of an employer.”
She added that she believed vaccine mandates are more intrusive and on a different level than a mask mandate, which the legislature has authorized to be made locally.
The bill proposes a ban workplace vaccine mandates, calling them discriminatory and an unfair employment practice.
It would also require health care facilities, governmental entities and essential service providers to offer reasonable accommodations for people unable or unwilling to provide sufficient proof of immunization.
Finally, it would create a personal exemption to mandatory vaccinations for school children.
Wyoming’s Legislature opens its budget session on Feb. 14.
No Wyoming-owned businesses or government entities have implemented a vaccine requirement. However, some companies, such as Banner Health, which operates a number of health care facilities in the state, including the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper, have done so.
Active members of the U.S. military will also have to receive a coronavirus vaccine.
Gov. Mark Gordon has refused to implement any new health mandates, masks or otherwise. Instead, he is allowing Wyoming cities, counties and school districts decide for themselves on whether or not a mask mandate is appropriate.
Only Montana has passed a law now banning workplace vaccine mandates.