Wyoming lawmakers to hold special session on bills to counter vaccine mandates

Wyoming lawmakers to hold special session on bills to counter vaccine mandates
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Wyoming state lawmakers are slated to hold a special session next week to consider measures to counter federal vaccine mandates.

The special session was added to the legislative calendar after a majority of the state House and Senate voted in favor of convening the meeting, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.

The lawmakers are set to meet between Oct. 26 and Oct. 28, according to the outlet. Each day of the special session will reportedly cost the state approximately $25,000.

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Two of the bills being written by the legislature — both of which are sponsored by GOP state Rep. Chuck Gray — call for banning vaccine passports and enacting $500,000 fines for companies that fire, demote, promote, compensate or refuse to hire an individual based on whether they are inoculated, according to The Associated Press.

A third piece of legislation — spearheaded by GOP state Sen. Tom James — would reportedly establish fines and jail time for public servants who attempt to implement federal vaccine mandates.

Even if the three bills are ultimately passed by the legislature and signed by Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R), it is possible that they will not be enacted, as they may not have legal force, according to the AP. The Constitution says state statutes cannot supersede federal law.

The special session comes after President BidenJoe BidenUS lawmakers arrive in Taiwan to meet with local officials Biden meets with Coast Guard on Thanksgiving Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE announced a new rule last month that will require all private employers with 100 of more employees to mandate vaccines or require workers to submit weekly testing.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not yet released the official rule, though senior administration officials in September said it would be unveiled “in the coming weeks.”

The new rule could impact almost 80 million workers, according to an administration official. Additionally, businesses that fail to abide by the policy could be subject to fines of up to $14,000 per violation.

It remains unknown if the Wyoming legislature will have the votes to pass the trio of bills, according to the AP.

Two-thirds of members in both the state House and the state Senate first have to agree to rules for the special session that are set forth by leadership. If that vote is not successful, however, the leaders will adjourn the meeting, the AP reported, citing a memo from state Senate President Dan Dockstader (R) and state House Speaker Eric Barlow (R).

The move, however, requires a roll-call vote for completion, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.

If they do not have the votes to suspend the session and ultimately move forward with the deliberations, though, it is possible they will adopt the rules that were utilized in the most recent session that look place last winter, according to the news wire.

That track, however, could increase the amount of time spent in special session by allowing unrelated pieces of legislation to be considered, the AP reported.

Another path forward is members voting on different rules, which would still require a two-thirds vote.

The last time the Wyoming legislature convened a special session was in 2020 to discuss COVID-19 emergency spending, according to the AP. Before that, the last special session was in 2004.

The Hill reached out to the White House and OSHA for comment.