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Wyo Opinions: Special session ‘work of fools’ or protection from government overreach?

With the highest COVID death rate in U.S. Wyoming is heading into Legislative special session to fight vaccine mandates. (Greg Kearney)

Prohibiting public health measures and punishing those who enforce them, Drake writes, is the work of fools. It will ensure that yet more Wyoming residents die as political casualties, he says. Conversely, an Oil City News reader wants Governor Gordon to “stand your ground” when it comes to resisting government mandates.

 Kerry Drake, WyoFile

Under the pretense of “protecting” Wyoming companies from a limited federal vaccine mandate, state lawmakers are launching a regulatory assault that will punish businesses for complying with federal law and leave workers exposed to increased health risks.

It’s unprecedented and unconscionable.

Senate File 20-Penalties for mandating COVID-19 vaccinationsis the most extreme bill that will be considered at the special session that begins today. (It has an identical mirror bill in the House, HB 20, as do all measures that have been filed.) The bill would impose a sentence of up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $10 million on a federal or state public servant who enforces a vaccine mandate.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tom James (R-Rock Springs) and Rep. Bill Fortner (R-Gillette), is absolute nonsense. It should have as much chance of passing as its ancestor bills that tried to stop enforcement of federal gun laws did — zero. But there are plenty of other measures sponsored by state legislators that should seriously concern everyone who wants to see an end to this pandemic.

Take House Bill 1-COVID-19 employer vaccine mandates, which includes this remarkable provision: “To protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of Wyoming, it is necessary for the Legislature to exercise its police powers to ensure the state of Wyoming does not experience a greater shortage of workers in general, and health care workers in particular, by imposition of unconditional employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates.”

How in the world does allowing unvaccinated workers to expose others to COVID-19 — including healthcare workers and the medically compromised — protect our collective “health, safety and welfare?” And frankly, the idea of this Legislature exercising its “police powers” makes me shudder.

Please keep in mind that OSHA has not even issued the rules for President Joe Biden’s so-called “vaccine mandate,” which isn’t a mandate at all. Biden said his executive order will allow people who do not want to take the vaccine to instead be tested for COVID-19 weekly. It also allows for religious exemptions. That’s not “unconditional.”

The president’s order would affect only companies with more than 100 employees, federal agencies and certain health care facilities. House Bill 1, however, would apply to every business in the state, regardless of size.

The fact it is co-sponsored by Senate President Dan Dockstader (R-Afton) and House Speaker Eric Barlow (R-Gillette) and other key members of the GOP leadership means it’s the primary bill that will be discussed.

It’s no surprise that the Wyoming Business Alliance and the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce oppose both HB 1 and House Bill 2-Federal COVID Vaccine Mandates-Penalties and Remedies. In addition to imposing up to a six-month jail sentence and/or a $750 fine for enforcing the mandate, HB 2 would give the governor $1 million to mount a legal challenge to any federal vaccine mandate.

“We can’t let our collective detest for federal overregulation cloud our judgment on how we allow our businesses to operate in a free-market economy grounded in making choices and living with the consequences,” WBA President Cindy DeLancey said in a statement. She added that “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

DeLancey pointed out that over 98% of Wyoming businesses have fewer than 100 employees and would not be subject to the federal mandate.

She asked lawmakers to allow business leaders and their employees to make their own decisions. The Legislature should instead be focused on opportunities to grow and diversify the state’s economy, DeLancey said. 

It’s excellent advice they should heed, but won’t. 

Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce Director Dale Steenbergen told the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle that HB 1 and HB 2 are antithetical to capitalism.

“More regulation is never an answer to existing regulatory overreach,” Steenbergen said. He noted the bind that any legislative action would cause, since it would effectively give businesses the choice to violate either federal or state laws.

“We’re caught in the blender,” Steenbergen said.

The Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution declares that the federal laws are the supreme law of the land, and judges are bound to recognize this regardless of state laws to the contrary. That’s all businesses need to know to jump out of the blender and make the right decision.

Kerry Drake

Government Overreach

I am glad to see Governor Gordon is prepared to stand against Biden and his unconstitutional vaccine mandates.

Covid 19 has a 99% survival rate. Americans have a right to decide what they put in their bodies. Government has no right to force anyone to inject themselves with an experimental vaccine, that not to mention, isn’t working.

They want shot after shot and with each shot your God-given immune system is changed for good, no turning back. 

This vaccine is like no other in our history and to threaten someone’s job because they decline is against our constitutional rights. 

Biden, the party of my body, my choice when it comes to everything , just not the option of a Covid vaccine..

Gordon, stand your ground!

Traci Mathias

Editor’s Note: The CDC says after 414 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the U.S. the data shows them to be extremely safe and effective. More information can be found here.

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