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Utah's legislature may block government COVID vaccine mandates

Posted at 4:08 PM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 19:48:34-04

SALT LAKE CITY  — House Speaker Brad Wilson said legislation seeking to block the Biden administration's plans to mandate that businesses require the COVID-19 vaccine or weekly testing may be coming soon.

"I would say likely, but not for sure," he said in an interview Tuesday with FOX 13.

READ: Some Utah religions refuse to grant vaccine exemptions

Speaker Wilson, R-Kaysville, said he wants to see what the proposed federal rule says. The White House has proposed utilizing occupational safety rules to require businesses with more than 100 employees mandate the COVID-19 vaccine or require regular testing. The House Speaker was also supportive of a threatened lawsuit by Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes over the mandate.

"I don’t want anyone to misconstrue our concern about this that we’re not supportive of vaccines. Very supportive of vaccines," he said. "What we’re not supportive of is government mandating that people get vaccines and doing it in a sneaky way."

Speaker Wilson told FOX 13 that he supports a private business or organization's right to mandate the vaccine on their own — which some companies have done. It is the same approach Governor Spencer Cox has taken on vaccine mandates.

"If a private organization or employer wants to require their employees to get vaccinated, that’s a decision up to them," Speaker Wilson said.

At a recent meeting of the Utah State Legislature's Health & Human Services Interim Committee, more than a hundred people tried to push lawmakers to ban any business from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine. Speaker Wilson signaled that effort might not get very far.

"There are lawmakers that think we should prohibit employers from being able to require vaccines," he said. "I am not one of them."

The Utah State Legislature passed a bill blocking government mandates of the COVID-19 "emergency vaccine." When the FDA granted authorization for Pfizer's version, the law lapsed. That has allowed many of Utah's colleges and universities to start imposing a vaccine requirement on students, as well as the University of Utah's health care system.

The Cox administration has said it would not mandate state government employees get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, legislative leaders on Capitol Hill are ensuring more resources are available for monoclonal antibody treatments for people who do contract COVID-19. Speaker Wilson said he spoke to the Utah Department of Health to ensure it was available.

Senate President J. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, also lent his support for it in a post on Twitter.