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Wyoming Legislature appears to have enough votes for anti-vaccine mandate special session

Rep. Chuck Gray. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — Enough members of the Wyoming Legislature have apparently voted in favor of holding a special session that would aim to consider legislation that would push back against vaccine mandates issued by the administration of President Joe Biden.

Rep. Chuck Gray (Natrona County) said via social media on Thursday night that legislators had received an email that 36 members of the Wyoming House of Representatives and 18 members in the Senate had voted in favor of holding the special session.

Senate President Dan Dockstader and Speaker of the House Eric Barlow said in a joint press release earlier this week that if a majority of members of the legislature voted in the special session, they were committed to holding one.

Gray said that the vote tally was unofficial, “but it looks like we have successfully crossed the threshold for a special session to be called.” He added that he would “continue to work on bills for the session” that is expected to be held starting October 26.

Rep. Dan Laursen (Park County) also said via social media that he had received notice that a majority of members of the legislature had voted in favor of the special session.

“Leadership will wait to officially send a letter stating we are having a special session to the Governor until enough ‘hard copy’ official ballots are received,” Laursen said.

No member of the Wyoming Democratic Caucus was planning to vote for the special session. The caucus said in a press release this week that its members think the proposed special session “would be an undue burden to the taxpayer, a waste of time and resources for legislators and our staff, and would further cause an undue burden to Wyoming businesses who would be forced to choose between following state OR federal law, requiring them to be in violation of one or the other.”

The Biden administration’s vaccine mandates will be administered through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but OSHA has yet to finalize the rule. It is expected to apply to employers with over 100 employees. Those employers would be mandated to require that their employees get vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly COVID testing.

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon’s office said this week that the governor and Attorney General Bridget Hill are continuing to prepare a challenge to the Biden administration mandate in the courts once the OSHA rules are finalized.

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.