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Stories, Stats, Impacts: Wyoming Public Media is here to keep you current on the news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Wyoming House begins debate on COVID-19 vaccine mandate protections for employees

House of Representatives meets during the 2021 special session
Bob Beck
Wyoming Public Media
House of Representatives meets during the 2021 special session

A bill that would sanction businesses who require COVID-19 vaccines for employment has made it through round one in the Wyoming House of Representatives. The bill fines employers $100 a day for having a mandate and it led to a lengthy debate over the rights of small business owners and employees in the state.

Under the bill, Wyoming small business owners can request permission for a vaccine mandate if they think it's necessary, but it requires a long waiting period. Other businesses are occasionally required to follow federal and state regulations. Rock Springs Representative Chad Banks said energy companies in his area could face sanctions on all sides.

"[They are] very highly regulated industries. Those industries could be shut down in an instant due to those federal regulations. And we're just compounding those regulations with these state regulations," said Banks.

Several lawmakers noted that hospitals and nursing homes that receive Medicaid and Medicare could also lose their federal funding if they don’t mandate vaccines. The bill will be debated two more times.

Bob Beck retired from Wyoming Public Media after serving as News Director of Wyoming Public Radio for 34 years. During his time as News Director WPR has won over 100 national, regional and state news awards.
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