By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
An in-person, three-day special legislative session to discuss possible reactions to President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate would cost the state around $118,000, the Legislative Service Office told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday.
Gov. Mark Gordon is considering calling a special session as early as October to address the vaccine mandate.
LSO spokesman Ryan Frost told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that the mileage and per diem for travel by legisaltors to and from Cheyenne for the session would cost $23,000. Daily salary and per diem costs covering the expenses of legislators while in Cheyenne would run $24,000.
“Therefore, the estimated member cost for an in-person three day special session in Cheyenne would be $118,000 plus $24,000 for each additional day in session over three days,” Frost said. “Mileage and per diem for all legislators would likely not be necessary for a remote special session, reducing the estimated member cost by up to $72,000. Added to either option would be the costs associated with the number of session staff that would need to be retained.”
It would be more than $45,000 cheaper to conduct a special session by video conferencing through a service such as Zoom, rather than having all legislators meet in Cheyenne.
As for the session itself, Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, said it would likely be conducted via video conferencing instead of in-person as the cost savings would be significant.
Biden last week announced that federal employees, health care workers and employees of companies with more than 100 workers would be required to either get the vaccine or be tested for coronavirus weekly. The rules would be enforced by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, which could levy fines against companies that fail to comply with the order.
Driskill said there is a 90% likelihood that the Legislature will hold a special session to address President Joe Biden’s sweeping national vaccine mandate.
Driskill told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that he envisioned a two- to three-day session where legislators would focus on strategies to fight the president’s mandate which would, in effect, force thousands of Wyoming workers to receive a COVID vaccine or be fired.
“The Legislature has listened closely to the people of Wyoming,” Driskill said. “We agree with the people that this is egregious overreach by the Biden administration. It is worthy of whatever the expense is to fight for Wyoming citizens’ rights.”
Gordon is preparing for both legislative and legal action to block the vaccination mandate issued last week by President Joe Biden, he announced Wednesday.
Gordon said he has advised Attorney General Bridget Hill to begin preparing a lawsuit to stop the mandate as it applies to private employers and has also started talking with legislators about holding a special legislative session, if necessary, to address the federal order.
“We cannot sit on our hands just watching this egregious example of federal government overreach,” Gordon said in a statement. “We are already communicating with other governors and states to prepare legal options once emergency standards are issued.”
The need for a special legislative session will be determined by the nature of the federal rules adopted to put the mandate in place, Gordon said.
“If there is a need and ability for the Legislature to respond to the emergency standards, specific bills and the rules for the session will be drafted,” the statement said.