Requiring workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 will result in fines of up to $ 10 million and damages of at least $ 500,000 on bills that Wyoming lawmakers will consider in a rare special meeting that began Tuesday.
In total, they plan to consider 20 proposals, including several that have nothing to do with President Joe Biden’s plans to require COVID-19 vaccinations for certain workers, within the next few days after lawmakers discuss postponing the meeting. not considering anything at all.
The House and Senate voted to move forward, despite scrapping time-saving rules restricting testimony and debate and banning non-COVID-19 vaccine bills, to conclude the meeting in just three days.
“If it’s important enough for us to be here, it’s important for us to do it right,” said Senator Chris Rotfuss, Senator Laramie, who voted against the special rules and to postpone the meeting.
Other lawmakers have warned of the high rates, saying they expect the Biden administration to release details of its COVID-19 vaccination mandate for healthcare professionals, federal contractors and big business early next week.
“In five days, we will have hundreds of people, potentially thousands, who will lose their jobs because of the mandate,” said R-Casper spokesman Chuck Gray.
Gray is the lead sponsor of a bill, co-sponsored with 11 other organizations, that will allow people who are denied jobs because they are not vaccinated to recover at least $ 500,000 in civil damages. The bill, sponsored by Congressman Bill Fortner, R-Gillette, will penalize any government official who attempts to enforce any COVID-19 vaccination mandate up to $ 10 million.
Schools will be banned from forcing students to wear masks and get vaccinated not only against COVID-19, but also against any disease in accordance with a bill sponsored by Republican Ocean Andrew, R.-Laramie. The account is named after high school student Laramie, who was suspended for refusing to wear a mask and then arrested for the alleged intrusion when she returned to school and refused to leave.
Wyoming was one of the states with the most vaccine resistance, second only to West Virginia, and as a result one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the United States in the past couple of months. According to the Wyoming Department of Health, the vast majority (about 84%) of those who fill Wyoming hospitals with a record number of COVID-19 patients have not been fully vaccinated.
However, many workers in Wyoming have openly opposed the vaccine, stating that they would rather undergo routine testing for the virus than receive an injection.
However, it remains to be seen what if any of the bills banning vaccinations will have a real effect if passed. Federal law takes precedence over state law under the US Constitution, and Gov. Mark Gordon has expressed his willingness to veto, saying he opposes state as well as federal mandates.
“I believe in freedom for people, and that these freedoms extend to how people decide to run their business. These principles cannot be divided according to political expediency, ”Gordon wrote in a statement to lawmakers, read out in the House of Representatives and Senate.
The abandonment of special rules for the session means that some bills not related to COVID-19 can receive support, as during a typical legislative session.
One of them will allow state officials to continue expanding the federal health insurance program in the state of Medicaid, the idea of which has generated more controversy and support in Wyoming in recent years. Another bill will freeze the increase in pensions for firefighters.
Meanwhile, not all COVID-19 vaccination bills are in conflict with a federal mandate. People who quit their jobs because their employers do not comply with COVID-19 vaccination requirements will be eligible for unemployment benefits under a bill sponsored by Rep. Kathy Connolly, State of Dr. Laramie.
Wyoming lawmakers planning how to allocate federal funding for coronavirus relief held their first special session in 16 years in 2020. The current special session is the 24th in state history.