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

Wyoming Senate debates bill aimed at preventing anti-vaccine discrimination

A pharmacist prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine at a community vaccination center in London on Friday.
Chris Jackson
A pharmacist prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine at a community vaccination center.

The Wyoming Senate gave initial support to a bill that intends to prevent someone from being discriminated against if they didn't get a COVID-19 vaccination. The bill also prevents someone from being denied access to any services if they haven't been vaccinated. Violators could be prosecuted and fined.

Casper Sen. Drew Perkins said it makes someone's COVID-19 status a protected class. Jackson Sen. Mike Gireau said the bill is bad for business.

"And I have to say that I'm a little surprised that a bunch of folks who I hear all the time during campaign season say they're pro-business put out a bill that in my view is anti-business," said Gireau.

Sen. Bo Biteman of Sheridan calls it civil rights legislation.

"They [legislation] exist to protect a group of people from being treated as second-class citizens. What are we having now with COVID? Second-class citizens. I’m hearing members who are perfectly ok with that," said Biteman. "They think it's funny to have a vaxxed bar versus an unvaxxed bar. It's not funny to have a black bar and a whites-only bar. We're beyond that in this country, thank god."

Several senators decided to give initial support to the bill with plans to amend it and make it less onerous, while also addressing concerns for the unvaccinated community. 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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