By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Nine bills aimed at reducing the impact of the federal coronavirus vaccination mandate on Wyoming residents and businesses have been selected for further review during the Legislature’s special session.
Lawmakers on Tuesday referred 10 of the 20 bills filed for consideration during the session to committees for review. The original schedule for the special session called for all of those bills to be reviewed by committees Tuesday and returned to the floor of each chamber for final action on Wednesday.
However, the special rules drafted to allow a faster legislative process were killed Tuesday and only a few of the bills referred to committees for review were sent back to the floor for action Wednesday.
Nine of the 10 bills introduced referenced the vaccine mandate proposed by the administration of President Joe Biden.
The tenth bill would correct an error in legislation approved in 2020 that prevented Wyoming Gaming Commission law enforcement officers from participating in the state’s retirement system.
The vaccine mandate, which has not yet taken effect, would require federal employees, health care workers and workers at businesses that employ more than 100 to receive the coronavirus vaccine or undergo weekly testing for the illness.
The nine bills related to the mandate propose different approaches to limiting its effectiveness, from prohibiting its enforcement to specifying that employees who quit or are fired from a private sector job because they are unwilling or unable to get a vaccine are eligible for severance benefits.
Here is a list and brief explanation of the bills relating to the proposed vaccination mandate that are being examined:
HB1001 — Prohibiting employers from requiring COVID vaccination as a condition of employment and requiring a severance package for employees who are fired or quit because of vaccine mandates.
HB1002 — Prohibiting the enforcement of the vaccine mandate and setting aside $1 million for legal action against the mandate.
HB1005 — Requiring employers to grant exemptions from the vaccine mandate requested by employees and making employers who fail to grant exemptions liable for damages of up to $5,000.
HB1006 — Requiring health care facilities, government entities and providers of essential services to offer reasonable options for those unwilling or unable to get the vaccination as a condition of obtaining essential products or services or visiting certain areas. The bill would also require employers who require their employees to get the vaccine to prove that any employee not getting the vaccine would create a hardship for or pose a threat to others in the business.
HB1009 — Requiring severance pay for employees who are fired or quit from their jobs because they decline the vaccination. Also requiring employers to grant exemptions from the mandate for medical or religious grounds. Also allows employees who suffer an injury because of a required COVID vaccination to seek workers’ compensation benefits.
HB1013 — Specifies that anyone who quits a job because their employer is not complying with the vaccine mandate is eligible for unemployment benefits.
SF1003 — Prohibiting discrimination against any person because he or she has not received the coronavirus vaccine or does not have a COVID “immunity passport.” Any acts of discrimination, such as keeping a person from obtaining servies or good or entering a public space, could be punished by a fine of up to $750 and six months in jail.
SF1004 — Making it a crime (blackmail) to threaten a person’s livelihood, employment or educational opportunities to compel that person to get the COVID vaccination.
SF9 — Requiring severance pay for employees who are fired or quit from their jobs because they decline the vaccination. Also requiring employers to grant exemptions from the mandate for medical or religious grounds. Also allows employees who suffer an injury because of a required COVID vaccination to seek workers’ compensation benefits.