CORONAVIRUS

Utah lawmakers discuss Biden administration’s COVID vaccine mandate

Oct 4, 2021, 2:06 PM | Updated: 2:11 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — State lawmakers held a hearing Monday morning in the Business and Labor Interim Committee to hear how people feel about President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

This issue drew in one of the biggest crowds ever to attend a committee hearing at the Utah Capitol, with lawmakers reporting around 700 people joining in-person and online.

Dozens lined up early outside the capitol eager for the chance to weigh in on Biden’s proposal. It would require businesses with 100+ employees to mandate vaccinations or administer weekly COVID-19 testing.

Hundreds signed up to speak, packing one committee room and filling up four overflow rooms.

Many like Craig Madsen, of Lehi, voiced their opposition.

“I’m a business owner and we have over 100 employees and this mandate that has come down is completely unacceptable,” Madsen said.

A handful of those in the crowd supported the proposal.

“As a retiree, I have to go out and visit stores and restaurants, I would like to be able to visit, but I would like to stay safe,” said Mike, of Salt Lake City.

But overwhelmingly, everyone from groups representing restaurants and construction workers to parents and small business owners, rejected what they say is an unconstitutional order.

“This is about freedom, whether it’s medical freedom or religious freedom,” said Shannon Golladay, of South Jordan.

Emilie Daly with Utah Parents United said this mandate would impact both businesses and families.

“It could mean a loss of jobs, a loss of food on the table, a loss of insurance,” Daly said.

Under 3% of all businesses have over 100 employees, representing roughly 65% employment base of the state.

Monday’s hearing was about listening to the people ahead of any official federal mandates and a chance for lawmakers to weigh their options. One consideration is suing the Biden administration.

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Utah lawmakers discuss Biden administration’s COVID vaccine mandate