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Group opposing business vaccine mandates petitioned Utah lawmakers not to allow them

(Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — A group opposed to federal vaccine mandates for businesses flooded a legislative committee meeting Wednesday, arguing Utah should pass legislation protecting businesses from requiring employees to be vaccinated.

The group, Utah Open for Business, argued to the Heath and Human Services Committee that Utah’s economy would suffer if President Joe Biden’s federal vaccine mandates for businesses were allowed to take effect.

“Most people who refuse the vaccine are ideologically opposed, and will not get it because an employer says they must. They will quit or be fired,” Spokesperson Kristin Chevrier said. 

President Biden’s order also allows employees to opt-out of vaccines for weekly testing.

The meeting got contentious at times as the group had to be quieted by Chairman Senator Mike Kennedy, and was told to hold their applause and boos.

Some of those boos were directed at Representative Jen Daily-Provost. She pushed the group for clarification on whether they wanted an outright ban on businesses requiring vaccines, or the decision left up to businesses.

“Do you believe that it is the right of a business to make that decision for themselves or are you suggesting that we as a state outlaw a businesses’ ability to make that decision?”   

To which one of the group’s presenters replied, “I think the business should have the right to make that decision.”

Other boos came toward Representative Dr. Suzanne Harrison, who said as a doctor she was in Utah’s Covid ICU last week and shared about how full it is. She also pleaded for the group to “get the politics” out of this discussion.

“My whole family is vaccinated, I recommend vaccines,” she said. “Get your information from reputable sources, like your doctor,” she said as the boos started and were quickly silenced.

 What happens if there’s competing federal and state laws

Some lawmakers seemed skeptical about whether Utah can do anything in regards to President Biden’s potential mandates.

“Even if we were to pass a proposed bill or this concept, we would most likely find ourselves in contravention of that federal rule or law,” said Senator Jake Anderegg. 

He, and others, sympathized with the group’s sentiment about federal overreach.

“Don’t throw your venom necessarily at us, even though I get it, this is your chance to vent. But many of us up here are on your side.”

Will lawmakers run this bill?

It’s unclear whether Republican lawmakers will actually run this legislation, they took no action in the meeting today. However, Representative Daily-Provost talked to KSL Newsradio on Tuesday night, the night before this meeting.

She was of the opinion then that this presentation was “tee-ing up” the idea for the bill.