TOPEKA (KSNT) – The President’s recent vaccine mandate has stirred controversy among business owners and lawmakers. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has not yet taken a clear stance on whether or not she supports the mandate.
The Kansas Capitol Bureau inquired about the Governor’s thoughts on the mandate on Friday, but there was no comment. However, the governor’s team is referring to her prior statements. One released shortly after President Biden made the announcement last week, said that the state is “waiting on additional guidance” to get more information on what the change could mean for Kansas.
“From the first day of this pandemic, Governor Kelly has consistently done everything in her power to keep Kansas families safe, kids in school, businesses open and the economy growing – including aggressively leading the charge to get as many shots in arms as possible after the arrival of the vaccine. As this announcement will impact many Kansans, we are still waiting on additional guidance on what this plan means for our residents, and our administration needs to thoroughly review it further before we comment on specifics. In the meantime, Kansas families can rest assured that the Governor will continue to make any decisions relating to COVID-19 based on science, not politics.”KANSAS GOVERNOR LAURA KELLY
However, the governor also made comments Tuesday at an economic development event that seemed to step back from the mandate. The governor said that she needs to hear more details about the President’s order would require certain businesses to mandate vaccines, she prefers that Kansas “continue to work cooperatively with businesses.”
While the state awaits further details, Kansas Republican leaders have been quick to push back.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and attorneys general from 23 other states sent a letter to the president on Thursday warning that litigation would follow if the administration proceeds with its announced plans to mandate private-sector employees either get a COVID-19 vaccine, submit to weekly testing, or be fired. The administration has said it intends to carry out the mandate through an Occupational Safety and Health Act emergency temporary standard.
“Congress has not clearly granted you the authority to impose your sweeping vaccine mandate, which would have enormous social, economic, and political consequences. Millions of Americans are threatened with losing their jobs and the benefits that come with them, including life and health insurance and retirement benefits. Your threat carries with it the threat of people losing their homes and shifting the financial obligation of supporting currently independent and employed individuals to public support systems. Worse still, if your expansive reading of the law succeeds, the American people can expect further abuses, as it is hard to imagine any requirement that the law would not allow. You are clearly acting beyond the scope of the statute, and you will fail in court.”THE COALITION OF 24 ATTORNEYS GENERAL
Kansas Republican leadership have also openly condemned the mandate, along with some business leaders in the state.
Alan Cobb, President, and CEO of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce said the new requirements are a “vast overreach” of the federal government, putting some businesses in the state on edge.
“They may lose employees over it, it creates division among employees, those who are vaccinated and those who are not, and ultimately, there is a principle here, that the government should not be telling them how to run and operate their business,” Cobb explained.
Some Democrats have acknowledged that while the mandate may present a tougher legal hurdle on certain fronts, that they support the President’s move.
Kansas Representative John Carmichael, D-Wichita, said he expects that it will be enforced.
“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s purpose is to maintain a safe workplace, and if I have to work in a workplace with people who are not vaccinated, and who won’t wear a mask, it endangers my health, it endangers my family’s health, and I think in the end, OSHA will be allowed to promulgate the rule and enforce the rule.”