House Kills Effort To Exempt Wyoming From CDC COVID-19 Regs

in News/Health care/Legislature

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By Leo Wolfson, State Politics Reporter

A bill that would have prevented Wyoming from following World Health Organization and Centers For Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for COVID-19 restrictions died on a close 32-29 vote on the House floor Wednesday afternoon.

House Bill 143 would have stripped the organizations of having recognized jurisdiction in Wyoming and any of their related requirements, mandates, recommendations, instructions or guidance related to the virus and pandemic.

The original bill that passed out of the Legislature’s House Labor Health and Social Services Committee included all health mandates and requirements. The bill was amended on its first reading Monday to only include COVID regulations. 

Rep. Jeanette Ward, R-Casper, who sponsored HB 143, said the effort was an attempt at a Wyoming-first policy when it comes to making health care decisions.

“I further request that the people of Wyoming be allowed to speak first before any agency,” Ward told the Legislature’s House Labor Health and Social Services Committee last week. 

Ward also sponsored legislation that would have prevented businesses, schools and health care facilities in Wyoming from being required to enforce any COVID-19 public health requirements. That also failed on the House floor by the same 32-29 vote.

All Or Nothing

Before the final vote, HB 143 was amended Wednesday to slightly weaken its language and give the state flexibility to follow WHO and CDC guidelines if it wants chooses to.

“I think the current version of the bill goes a bit too far and I think this makes it better,” said Rep. Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs, who brought the amendment.

Ward opposed the amendment, saying the intent was to forbid Wyoming using the recommendations of those agencies, not having a choice.

“If we change the ‘shall not be used’ to ‘shall not be binding,’ that will result in entities continuing to use the CDC and WHO mandates to justify masks, vaccines and testing,” she said.

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