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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 defeats COVID-19 mandates protection bill

 Senator Bo Biteman debates vaccine mandate legislation
Bob Beck
Wyoming Public Media
Senator Bo Biteman debates vaccine mandate legislation on Wednesday

In a close vote, the Wyoming Senate defeated a bill that would have provided protections for businesses and employees regarding COVID-19 mandates. The Senate failed to get the necessary 16 votes to pass the measure on the initial vote and a second one.

Before the final vote, Senators added an amendment to allow parents to ask for waivers from K-12 schools over vaccinations and masking. Senate Vice President Larry Hicks said the bill likely became too big and provided too many reasons to oppose it.

"Initially I was an advocate for making it broad enough that we would be able to have this public debate, discourse, and conversation on all these potential arenas that were into the COVID vaccine. In retrospect I would not advise any future legislatures to go down this route," said Hicks.

Sheridan Sen. Bo Biteman said he was extremely disappointed with the defeat of the legislation.

"So many constituents reached out to us who are desperate. I've never felt so much pressure to get something done for the people and to come out as a failure is a real punch in the gut," said Biteman.

But others like Sen. Mike Gireau of Jackson said the legislation was interfering with the wishes of private businesses. Something he said Republicans normally support.

Sen. Hicks said the issue won't go away and will likely be considered during the upcoming budget session.

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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