Gordon, lawmakers talk about fighting vaccine mandate


CASPER — Gov. Mark Gordon is working with Wyoming legislative leaders and the state’s attorney general to explore what options are available to fight back against President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for companies that employ over 100 workers, a Gordon spokesman said Monday. 

Gordon has also spoken with other governors who are frustrated with the Biden mandate, said Michael Pearlman, the governor’s spokesman. Pearlman said he didn’t have the names of the specific governors. 

In a statement last week, Gordon denounced Biden’s executive order, which also requires all federal employees and contractors to be vaccinated. Gordon said requiring COVID-19 vaccinations has “no place in America.” 

More than 300 Wyoming businesses have more than 100 employees, the governor’s office told the Star-Tribune on Monday. 

“The Biden Administration’s announcement to mandate COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing for businesses is an egregious example of big government overreach,” Gordon said in the statement. 

The mandate is not yet in effect. It must still go through the federal rule-making process. 

On Thursday, Gordon indicated he had asked Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill to “stand prepared” to oppose the mandate. 

Pearlman’s comments Monday were the first indicating the governor was also working with state lawmakers and other governors to push back on Biden’s executive order. 

Gordon has encouraged Wyoming residents to get vaccinated, while simultaneously pushing back on vaccine mandates. He issued an executive order earlier this year that banned vaccine passport requirements in state agencies and facilities. 

Some legislators have been pushing for a ban on a vaccine mandate of any sort since before Biden’s Thursday announcement. 

Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, Rep. Hallinan, R-Gillette, Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Gillette, and Rep. Chip Neiman, R-Hulett all met with Gordon on Sep. 3 for that purpose. All four are members of the House Freedom Caucus. 

Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives challenging Rep. Liz Cheney, on Friday called for a special legislative session in response to Biden’s executive order. That session, he said, would aim to produce legislation to ban vaccine mandates and restrictions on public accommodations related to COVID vaccination status. 

Biden announced his vaccine requirement amid a surge in COVID-19 cases that has coincided with the emergence of a more contagious strain of the novel coronavirus, the delta variant. 

Along with spreading more easily, the variant appears to be sickening more young people than previous strains. 

Cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been surging in Wyoming this summer, though not yet at the same levels that were seen during the fall 2020 surge. Vaccine use has also ticked up in Wyoming during the surge. 

However, the state has one of the lowest inoculation rates in the nation.