Nebraska AG examining legality of OSHA’s vaccine mandate as governors vow to fight it

Reynolds, Ricketts issued statements opposing the Biden administration’s requirements
Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 11:53 AM CDT|Updated: Nov. 4, 2021 at 1:47 PM CDT
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(WOWT) - Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said Thursday afternoon the state’s attorney general is reviewing the the legality of federal COVID-19 vaccination rules announced hours earlier.

Thursday morning, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Thursday that Iowa would “take immediate legal action” challenging the COVID-19 vaccination mandates outlined hours earlier.

Thursday morning, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued requirements for businesses with 100 or more employees, stating that they must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly for the virus and wear masks in the workplace. The new requirements are expected to apply to about 84 million workers at medium and large businesses.

Ricketts released a statement Thursday afternoon calling the mandate “draconian” and would put Nebraskans at risk of losing their jobs over a matter that should remain a personal choice.

“We will fight back,” he said in the statement.

Reynolds said in her statement that the requirements force Iowans “to choose between making a living or standing up for their personal beliefs,” insisting that the policy “will only worsen the existing workforce shortages and supply chain issues that hinder our economic relief.”

President Biden’s plan pits Americans against Americans, while forcing them to choose between making a living or...

Posted by Governor Kim Reynolds on Thursday, November 4, 2021

She said she supports getting vaccinated against COVID-19, but that she believes it should be up to Iowans to make that decision for themselves.

“I believe the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19, but I also firmly believe in Iowans’ right to make healthcare decisions based on what’s best for themselves and their families, and I remain committed to protecting those freedoms,” she said.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has said previously that he would also fight the requirement.

During his news conference Monday, Gov. Pete Ricketts said he plans to sue OSHA over vaccine mandates.

“As soon as those rules come out, we will be taking OSHA and anybody else to court to get an injunction and stop what is a huge abuse of federal power to mandate vaccines through these emergency rules,” Ricketts said last week.

He also issued an executive order Monday barring state agencies from complying with the mandate for federal contractors; Nebraska and Missouri are leading a multi-state coalition, which includes Iowa, to fight that requirement.

OSHA left open the possibility of expanding the requirement to smaller businesses. It asked for public comment on whether employers with fewer than 100 employees could handle vaccination or testing programs.

Read Gov. Reynolds’ statement

“President Biden is taking dangerous and unprecedented steps to insert the federal government even further into our lives while dismissing the ability of Iowans and Americans to make health care decisions for themselves.

Biden’s plan pits Americans against Americans, while forcing them to choose between making a living or standing up for their personal beliefs. Biden’s actions will only worsen the existing workforce shortages and supply chain issues that hinder our economic recovery.

I believe the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19, but I also firmly believe in Iowans’ right to make healthcare decisions based on what’s best for themselves and their families, and I remain committed to protecting those freedoms. President Biden should do the same.

We will take immediate legal action to challenge the Biden Administration’s rule on vaccine mandates for employees of companies employing 100 or more.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds

Read Gov. Ricketts’ statement

“President Biden’s draconian vaccine mandate is an abuse of federal power. If this rule is allowed to take effect, many Nebraskans will be at risk of losing their jobs over something that should remain a personal health choice. I have been in communication with the Attorney General today, who will be taking the lead on Nebraska’s legal review of the potentially illegal federal vaccine mandate. We will fight back.”

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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