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Wyoming governor looking at ways to fight Biden vaccine mandates

Governor Mark Gordon with Central Wyoming Hospice's board and staff at the 8th annual Governors Invitational Golf Classic (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon’s office said on Wednesday that he the governor perceives President Joe Biden’s new vaccine mandates for employers with at least 100 employees as federal overreach.

The governor is supporting steps to fight back against the mandates.

“We cannot sit on our hands just watching this egregious example of federal government overreach,” Gordon said in Wednesday’s press release. “We are already communicating with other governors and states to prepare legal options once emergency standards are issued.”

Gordon’s office said the first step in the fight against the vaccine mandates is Attorney General Bridget Hill preparing legal action to stop the mandates from applying to private employers.

“Although the details of this proposed new federal requirement are not yet released, it is important that Wyoming be ready to respond promptly and forcefully when it is issued,” Gordon’s office said.

The governor is also discussing options with legislative leadership. The Wyoming Legislature could hold a special session in October to work on bills that would aim to address the perceived overreach of the Biden mandate.

“Wyoming is a conservative state with a constitution designed to constrain the actions of government, so special sessions are meant to be very rare,” Gordon said. “They cost taxpayer money, so they should never be frivolous. That is why legislative leadership and I will work together to ensure any potential special session held to respond to vaccine mandates will be focused, effective, and efficient.” 

Gordon’s office noted that the Biden administration has not yet issued emergency standards for the vaccine mandates.

“Those are expected to be issued in the coming weeks by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Currently Wyoming runs a State Plan OSHA Program, which allows the State to manage and retain OSHA enforcement,” Gordon’s office said. “If the state does not enforce the Biden Administration’s temporary standard, Wyoming’s ability to administer the program could be jeopardized.”

Gordon said that the strategy to fight the vaccine mandates needs to be patient.

“This is not a fire, ready, aim moment,” Gordon said. “We must be smart, thoughtful, and effective in the way we respond to these overreaching efforts by the Biden Administration. Responding prematurely is not in the best interests of Wyoming’s citizens or employers.”

While he opposes the mandate, Gordon said in the release that he still supports COVID-19 vaccines.

“Vaccines are an important tool that can help us to bring this pandemic under control,” he said. “I am vaccinated myself and believe they are safe and effective. Nevertheless, I also understand others may have a different impression of the COVID-19 vaccine. In some cases, they are my neighbors and I respect their views just as I expect them to respect mine. This Biden mandate is counterproductive and will not convince anyone otherwise.”

The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.