LAWRENCE, Kan. — An anticipated federal vaccine mandate poised to affect employees at the University of Kansas and Kansas State University could be tamped down by a challenge from the Kansas attorney general.
A new law, adopted during the Kansas’s recent special session, would loosen requirements for vaccine exemptions in a move that directly contradicts demands from the White House.
The new Kansas law says that you can claim a religious exemption and your employer is not allowed to investigate the sincerity of your beliefs.
In a letter, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt told KU that their vetting process for exemptions, including paperwork asking follow-up questions about why an employee might be asking for one, is illegal.
The new state law also “establishes a procedure by which any employee aggrieved by a violation of the statute may seek redress ultimately resulting in potential civil action being filed in an appropriate state court by the office of the attorney general to enforce the statute and secure these rights,” according to the letter from Schmidt.
This law challenges a September executive order from President Joe Biden which required vaccinations for federal employees and contractors. Universities receive federal funding for research and the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) advised schools to comply.
But KBOR will also follow the new state law, saying in a statement attributed to the board president that “The factors impacting the federal contracting requirements have been shifting rapidly particularly with new statutes added in the special session and moving federal deadlines.”
The University of Kansas said it has already adjusted their exemption paperwork to comply with state law. The university also pushed back its vaccination deadline, another complaint made by the attorney general’s office in his letter.