February 20, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Kelly decries federal vaccine mandate, stops short of backing lawsuit

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Kansas Governor Laura Kelly came out against the federal vaccine mandate Friday morning, a day after Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced he would file suit over the mandate.

In a formal statement, Kelly said she didn’t believe it was the correct path for Kansas.

“Yesterday, I reviewed the new vaccine mandate from the Biden Administration. While I appreciate the intention to keep people safe, a goal I share, I don’t believe this directive is the correct, or the most effective, solution for Kansas,” Kelly said. “States have been leading the fight against COVID-19 from the start of the pandemic. It is too late to impose a federal standard now that we have already developed systems and strategies that are tailored for our specific needs. I will seek a resolution that continues to recognize the uniqueness of our state and builds on our ongoing efforts to combat a once-in-a-century crisis.”

The statement drew ire from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s campaign, who announced Thursday — not Friday as an Associated Press story claimed — that he would be filing suit against the Biden administration to halt the OSHA mandate.

Schmidt is running for the GOP nomination for Kansas governor, and Campaign Manager CJ Grover in an email statement noted that Schmidt has opposed the mandates since they were announced, and has now filed a lawsuit against both the federal contractor mandate and — as reported by the Sentinel on Nov. 5 — against the OSHA mandate

“Attorney General Schmidt has been fighting Joe Biden’s mandates since the moment they were announced,” Grover said. “After two months of silence, Laura Kelly has now voiced her concerns some 36 hours after her party suffered defeat in blue state Virginia — words accompanied by no action. Kansans are smart, and can see which candidate is acting on principle defending their livelihood and which is making a desperate political ploy to save her own job.”

Kansas Republican Senator Roger Marshall likewise called on Kelly to back Schmidt’s lawsuit in a tweet.

Every state in the Union should follow @DerekSchmidtKS lead. Call your Governors and demand they defy this unconstitutional mandate. @GovLauraKelly  it is time for you to ACT and defend Kansas families from this assault — openly support and aid AG Schmidt in his lawsuit!” Marshall wrote.

OSHA regulations would force ‘large employers’ to require vaccination or testing

Called an “Emergency Temporary Standard,” the rule will require that “covered employers must develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, with an exception for employers that instead adopt a policy requiring employees to either get vaccinated or elect to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work in lieu of vaccination.”

NBC News reports that the federal vaccine mandate rules would require any employer with 100 or more employees to require vaccination or regular testing by Jan. 4, 2022, and masks would be required for unvaccinated employees no later than Dec. 5 of this year.

OSHA will also be conducting on-site compliance inspections with penalties ranging from $13,653 up to $136,532.

The Associated Press reports that “the requirements will apply to about 84 million workers at medium and large businesses, although it is not clear how many of those employees are unvaccinated.”

However, that statement flies in the face of established definitions of a “small business.” 

While the definition varies by industry, the Small Business Administration generally regards a “small business” as a privately-held company, having from 100-1,500 employees and from $1-40 million in annual gross revenue, dependent upon the industry sector.

Such small businesses make up 99.7% of all US firms, so the federal vaccine mandate could potentially have a damaging impact across the entire economy if — as Reuters reports happened in Wichita — thousands of workers refuse the vaccine.

“In Wichita, Kansas, nearly half of the roughly 10,000 employees at aircraft companies Textron Inc and Spirit AeroSystems remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, risking their jobs in defiance of a federal mandate, according to a union official,” Reuters reported. “‘We’re going to lose a lot of employees over this,'” said Cornell Beard, head of the local Machinists union district. Many workers did not object to the vaccines as such, he said, but were staunchly opposed to what they see as government meddling in personal health decisions.”

Beard, who said he is a life-long Democrat told Reuters that has changed.

“They’ll never get another vote from me and I’m telling the workers here the same thing.”

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