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vaccine mandates

House Introduces Bill Requiring ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ For Unvaccinated Workers

in News/Coronavirus

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A bill designed to give workers alternatives to vaccinations required by their employers won introduction for legislative consideration on Tuesday.

Wyoming’s House voted 45-15 to introduce House Bill 32, which would specify that employers who require their workers to get vaccines would have to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who cannot or will not get vaccinations.

The bill is similar to one considered during last year’s special session, but it does a better job of balancing the needs of employers against the needs of their workers, said Rep. Sue Wilson, R-Cheyenne, chair of the House Labor, Health and Social Services Committee.

“It works on the existing legal concept of reasonable accommodation,” she said. “It’s actually very narrowly crafted. It does balance the rights of business owners and employers with the interests of employees and clients.”

The bill specifies that an employer who requires workers to be immunized for any preventable disease is guilty of discriminatory employment practices unless the immunization is required by federal law or the unimmunized person poses a threat to the employer’s business.

The employer would be required to develop a “reasonable accommodation” to allow an unimmunized worker to continue doing his or her job.

The bill would also require providers of essential public or private services to develop ways to serve those who either cannot or will not get immunizations.

Wilson said the Labor, Health and Social Services Committee, which drafted the legislation, specifically made it apply to any preventable disease.

“I’m sure we are all very tired of COVID and would like to never hear about it again,” she said. “We think it would be better if the Legislature actually deals with vaccinations and reasonable accommodations now rather than continue to have special sessions for the disease of the year.”

She added that by taking federal laws into account, the committee eliminated a problem that could surface if state law prohibited an employer from requiring a vaccination but federal law required the vaccination.

The bill moved ahead despite opposition from Rep. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, the House Minority Floor Leader, who argued it is too broad.

“This bill now coves all vaccine mandates,” she said. “Think smallpox and polio. It upends decades, if not a century of well established doctrine.”

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Supreme Court Halts Vaccine Mandate, Wyoming Officials Rejoice

in News/Coronavirus

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Several top Wyoming officials celebrated the news Thursday that the U.S. Supreme Court halted the implementation of the federal vaccine mandate as it applied to workers at large companies.

While the court did allow the mandate requiring health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID to take effect, it blocked the mandate that worker at companies employing more than 100 people get mandates or regularly tested for the coronavirus.

“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly. Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category,” the unsigned opinion said.

Wyoming had filed a lawsuit aimed at stopping the mandate and Gov. Mark Gordon said he was “delighted” to hear of the court’s decision.

“This is a victory for Wyoming businesses and their workers. The court rightfully recognized this action by the Biden Administration for what it was: a blatant example of federal overreach,” Gordon said Thursday.

However, he was disappointed that the health care workers mandate remained in place.

“I continue to maintain that healthcare workers should not be forced to choose between vaccination and termination. We are still in the process of evaluating the impacts of this ruling on Wyoming’s healthcare workforce,” he said. 

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis had similar praise for the mandate applying to private companies.

“This is a huge win,” she said. “The federal government has no place making far-reaching mandates that put an undue burden on businesses across Wyoming.”

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso also touted the ruling on his social media Thursday afternoon.

“Today, the Supreme Court confirmed what we all knew: @POTUS Biden’s vaccine mandate on employees of private businesses is unconstitutional. This ruling frees millions of Americans from having to choose between their job and their personal health care decisions,” Barrasso said. “Stopping this massive government overreach is a victory for all Americans who value the Constitution and their personal freedoms.”

President Joe Biden announced in September that he would require federal employees , health care workers and workers at companies employing more than 100 people to get the coronavirus vaccine.

In response, Wyoming filed three lawsuits seeking to block the mandate for employees of large companies, health care workers and federal contractors and their employees.

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Wyoming Joins 10-State Lawsuit To Halt Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

in News/Mark Gordon

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill has joined a 10-state coalition led by Missouri in filing a lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s administration for his proposed coronavirus vaccine mandates.

Gov. Mark Gordon’s office announced the move on Friday.

The lawsuit challenges the Biden administration’s use of federal procurement statutes to mandate vaccinations through Executive Order 14042

“This vaccine mandate for federal contractors is a clear example of the extreme federal overreach  that Wyoming must put an end to,” Gordon said in a prepared statement. “Today, as promised, we take action as a broad coalition of which General Hill is proud to be a part. We are committed to defend the interests of Wyoming’s people and protect them from further federal intrusion into our lives.”

The lawsuit incorporates 12 counts and alleges that the Sept. 9 executive order enacted by the Biden administration usurps the states’ police powers, usurps states’ rights in violation fo the U.S. Constitution, violates the Procurement Act, violates the Administrative Procedures Act, and is an unconstitutional exercise of spending power.  

Speaking about how the vaccine mandate violates the Procurement Act, the lawsuit states, “Far from increasing economy and efficiency in procurement, the contractor vaccine mandate will cause large-scale resignations of unvaccinated employees of federal contractors. These disruptive consequences will directly oppose both ‘economy’ and ‘efficiency’ of the marketplace.”

The lawsuit also takes issue with the scope of the mandate stating that, “On its face, the contractor vaccine mandate therefore applies to any employee of a contractor or subcontractor who is a party to a federal contract, even if the work they do is wholly unrelated to the contract, and even if it is not certain they will ever be working in a location with an employee who is actually working on a federal contract.”

In addition, the lawsuit states that the vaccine mandate is unconstitutional, arguing, “Defendants, through their vaccine mandate, have exercised power far beyond what was delegated to the federal government by constitutional mandate or congressional action. Neither Article II of the U.S. Constitution nor any act of Congress authorizes defendants to implement their vaccine mandate. The power to impose vaccine mandates, to the extent that any such power exists, is a power reserved to the States.” 

The lawsuit asks the court to declare the vaccine mandate unlawful and enjoin defendants from enforcing the vaccine mandate.

Joining Wyoming and Missouri in the lawsuit are attorneys general from Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota and South Dakota. 

Wyoming’s involvement in the lawsuit is part of a two-pronged approach taken by the state to battle the federal mandate.

The Legislature will continue its special session — the second prong — next week to review legislation aimed at reducing the impact of the mandate.

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