SALT LAKE CITY — Legislative leaders and the governor's office are speaking out in opposition to President Biden's plans to require large businesses to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine on their employees.
In a joint statement issued Friday night, House Speaker Brad Wilson, Senate President J. Stuart Adams, Governor Spencer Cox and Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson condemned President Biden's plans to use federal occupational safety rules to require businesses with more than `100 employees to require them to be vaccinated or tested regularly.
"The president's unilateral decision to force American businesses to mandate COVID-19 vaccines as a condition of employment grossly exceeds his authority. Not only is this mandate contrary to his previous promises, but this declaration violates the principles and processes that are the bedrock of good government. As elected officials, we will not turn a blind eye to this power grab and will do our part to uphold the principles of separation of powers and individual liberty," the statement said.
"We reaffirm our continued support for the vaccination effort. Vaccines have proven to be the most effective measure we can take to reduce the strain on our hospitals and save lives. However, requiring employers to force these decisions upon their employees is not the proper role of government and should not become the new precedent."
But in a news conference and a subsequent interview with FOX 13 in August, Lt. Gov. Henderson said the Cox administration would back any business that decided to mandate their employees be vaccinated.
"We support them. That’s part of the free market," she said at the time. "Those who are complaining about it? Are the very people I think that love the free market and think businesses should be able to what they want and make their own decisions. We just want to reiterate we agree. Businesses should be able to make those decisions."
Asked about businesses that require proof of vaccination from customers, Lt. Gov. Henderson replied: "That’s also their right."
That stance is still the governor's belief, his office told FOX 13 on Friday night. The difference is it's a free market business deciding it — not the government forcing it on businesses.
"We support vaccines as the best way to end this pandemic and keep people safe. We also support free market solutions that allow businesses to require vaccinations or not require vaccinations as they choose," Gov. Cox said in a statement to FOX 13.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is among 24 attorneys general across the nation threatening a lawsuit over the Biden administration's mandate.