Utah lawmakers want public comment before taking action on Biden’s vaccine order

A special legislative committee hearing is scheduled for October 4.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Senator Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, will chair a special legislative committee hearing to seek public comment on a possible response to a federal vaccine mandate for private companies.

Utah lawmakers hope to end partisan resentment surrounding vaccines and, more importantly, vaccine mandates when they hold a special committee meeting on the subject next month.

Lawmakers are currently debating how to respond to a proposal from President Joe Biden requiring companies with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers have the COVID-19 vaccine or are tested weekly for the virus. Federal employees and contractors should be vaccinated with no testing option. The order would be executed by the Department of Labor and OSHA.

Governor Spencer Cox, Attorney General Sean Reyes and the GOP-controlled legislature have all vowed to push back on Biden’s proposal, saying it is unconstitutional and excessive by the federal government.

The problem is, nobody knows exactly when this rule will come into effect or even what it will say. It’s a perfect recipe for a lot of slashing as officials wait for the actual wording of the regulations, which is expected in the coming weeks.

Because of this ambiguity, legislative leaders believe this is an ideal opportunity to seek public comment from the Utahns on both sides of the issue. On October 4, they will do just that with a special Business and Labor Committee hearing on Capitol Hill.

“I hope we get a balance between those who oppose vaccines and warrants as well as those who support what the president is doing,” said Senator Curt Bramble, R-Provo, who will be in charge of this hearing. of the committee. “I really hope for a solid discussion. All we have at the moment is what President Biden said, which is turned from both left and right. “

Bramble warns he will have zero tolerance for anyone who tries to yell at or intimidate those they disagree with, saying he will not hesitate to kick out anyone who breaks decorum.

“There is a lot of posture and partisan tribalism on both sides of this issue,” Bramble said. “This is an opportunity for the Utahns to voice their concerns about politics and discuss what should be done.”

Last week, the interim health and social services committee held a unilateral hearing on how to block vaccination warrants for private companies. During this hearing, the public challenged and booed lawmakers who tried to speak out in favor of vaccinations.

The committee hearing is only the first step in developing a possible legislative response to Biden’s vaccine order. Senate Speaker Stuart Adams R-Layton told Republican leaders on Saturday that lawmakers had been pressured to call for a special session in response to the vaccine or the surge in testing.

Adams says a special session may be a possibility at some point, but at the moment there is no proposal from the Biden administration and no clear path for lawmakers. He stresses that the best thing to do right now is to get public opinion, which was non-existent last year during the early stages of the pandemic.

“That’s what separates an executive order from a legislative effort,” Adams says. “I expect to get good feedback from people on both sides of the problem. “

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