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Utah lawmakers want public input on the president’s vaccine mandate

FILE: Utah State Capitol in winter. Photo: Colby Walker | KSL NewsRadio

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers say they want the public to weigh in on President Joe Biden’s proposed vaccine mandate that would require larger businesses to vaccinate or test employees.

A special meeting of the Business and Labor Committee has been scheduled for Oct. 4 at 9 a.m. The chair of that committee told KSL NewsRadio the meeting is meant to gather public input.

“[On] what has been announced, what is the impact on businesses, on workplace safety, what’s the impact on employees or the stakeholders that will be directly impacted by this national mandate,” said Sen. Curt Bramble.

What will that do to them, to their jobs, to the economy, whatever.  It’s appropriate to hold a hearing and hear from all sides on an issue relative to what the president has been proposing,” he said. 

President Biden’s order says businesses with 100 or more employees must either require a vaccination, or weekly testing of employees. The testing would be done through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor.

Utah’s legislative leadership signaled Tuesday they would be prepared to act against the order, once it’s more clearly spelled out.  

“We’ll see what those rules look like and we’ll respond,” said Speaker of the House Brad Wilson on KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic show.

“But we don’t think this is the right thing for OSHA to have to do to get in this space … there’s [sic] other ways to solve this problem, and it’s not the role of government, quite frankly,” Wilson said.  

Bramble said he’s not aware of any legislation and that the meeting isn’t preparation for a potential bill.

“I know of no proposed legislation of any kind relative to the president’s mandate,” he said. “I know there are legislators that have talked about it, that they want to do something.”

He said the meeting is simply a fact-finding mission. 

“This is not being driven by any particular predetermined outcome of what the message from the public in that meeting is going to be molded into,” he said.   

Bramble did say that a special legislative session, where lawmakers could pitch a formal bill, is possible. 

” … Then having this [meeting] preemptory in terms of getting a sense from the public and giving the public a chance to weigh in on a formal legislative record — that hasn’t happened prior to virtually any of the executive orders related to Covid.”

A group opposed to business vaccine mandates recently presented to a  meeting of the Health and Human Services Committee. Its focus was a need for a law in Utah to block the federal vaccine order.

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