Wyoming Bill To Limit Vaccine Requirements Passes First Test
A bill that would, among other things, limit the ability of employers to require that employees be vaccinated and limit school district vaccine mandates has passed its first test of the 2022 Wyoming Legislative session.
You can read House Bill 32 here. The legislation passed an introductory vote in the Wyoming House on Tuesday 45-15. Because the legislation is a non-budget bill and 2022 is a budget session, it needed at least a 2/3 majority vote for introduction.
While the legislation would not entirely eliminate an employer's ability to force workers to be vaccinated, it would limit that authority.
In the words of the legislation:
v) For an employer to require as a condition of employment that any employee or prospective employee be immunized for any preventable disease unless the requirement is strictly based on federal law or rule or the employer can demonstrate that an unimmunized employee would create an undue hardship or pose a direct threat to the health or safety of persons in the workplace that cannot be eliminated or reduced by means of a reasonable accommodation. As used in this paragraph, "reasonable accommodation" means any change to the application or hiring process, to the job, to the way the job is done or the work environment that allows an unimmunized person who is qualified for the job to perform the essential functions of that job and enjoy equal employment opportunities.
The bill would also restrict school districts' ability to impose vaccine mandates:
(iv) An immunization shall only be mandated after the expiration of a five (5) year period immediately following the beginning of the attendant federal post licensure vaccine safety monitoring period for pediatric patients as administered by the immunization safety office within the center for disease control.
The bill would also require health care facilities to offer ''reasonable accommodations" for unvaccinated people who want to visit patients and residents of health care facilities. It also requires government agencies to offer accommodations such as computer or audiovisual access to unvaccinated people.
In House floor debate on the bill on Tuesday, Rep. Sue Wilson [R-Laramie County] said the legislation meets well-established definitions of reasonable accommodation. In terms of the business vaccine limitations, Wilson said "It does balance the interests of businesses and employers with those of employees and clients.'' She added that the current version of the bill takes into account recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on employer vaccine mandates. ''I'm sure that we are all very tired of COVID and would like to never hear of it again. That's what we thought last spring" Wilson said. She said it would be better if the legislature deals with vaccination and accommodation issues 'broadly now. Rather than to continue to have special sessions for the disease of the year.''
But House Minority Floor leader Rep. Cathy Connolly [D-Albany County] argued the legislation has problems, including the fact that it covers all vaccine mandates, not just COVID-19. "Think smallpox and polio" said Connolly. She also said the bill upends "decades, if not a century, of well-established doctrine that says we, as the legislature, are responsible for public health." Connolly called the bill "anti-business'' in that it "strips Wyoming businesses of establishing terms and conditions to protect their workers, their public, and their bottom line."
Here is how the House members voted on the bill:
Ayes: ANDREW, BAKER, BEAR, BLACKBURN, BROWN, BURKHART, BURT, CLAUSEN, CRAGO, DUNCAN, EKLUND, EYRE, FLITNER, FORTNER, GRAY, GREEAR, HALLINAN, HAROLDSON, HARSHMAN, HEINER, JENNINGS, KINNER, KNAPP, LARSEN, L, LAURSEN, D, NEIMAN, NEWSOME, NICHOLAS, OAKLEY, O'HEARN, OLSEN, OTTMAN, PAXTON, RODRIGUEZ-WILLIAMS, ROMERO-MARTINEZ, SIMPSON, SOMMERS, STYVAR, WASHUT, WESTERN, WHARFF, WILLIAMS, WILSON, WINTER, ZWONITZER
Nays: BANKS, BARLOW, CONNOLLY, HENDERSON, LEBEAU, MACGUIRE, OBERMUELLER, PROVENZA, ROSCOE, SCHWARTZ, SHERWOOD, STITH, SWEENEY, WALTERS, YIN
The bill will now move on to the House Labor, Health, And Social Services Committee.
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