CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Legislature defeated a bill this week that would have prohibited discrimination in the workplace based on a person’s vaccination, face covering or medical testing status.
House Bill 66 failed on a 29-32-1 vote and initially banned requirements for any infectious disease vaccine and mask requirements. The bill was later amended to prohibit business owners from enacting the COVID-19 vaccine and implementing face mask rules.
“This bill would have hampered business freedom and allowed the government to insert itself into decisions being made by Wyoming business owners on how to best operate their businesses,” said House District 48 Representative Clark Stith of Rock Springs.
It is the Legislature’s responsibility to serve as a steady barrier against government overreach. HB0066’s defeat is a win for liberty and smaller government.~ Representative Clark Stith, HD-48
Beyond imposing state government mandates on Wyoming business owners, HB66 would have jeopardized hundreds of millions of dollars in federal health-care funding for Wyoming’s most vulnerable citizens, Stith said.
The medical community raised a number of concerns during testimony before the House Labor Health and Social Services Committee regarding the bill’s clash with compliance requirements under the federal Center for Medicare and Medical Services (CMS).
Federal compliance issues could mean CMS may withhold payments to medical providers, nursing homes and medical facilities could be fined with civil monetary penalties, and eventually Wyoming medical facilities could potentially lose the ability to admit patients. If a medical facility maintains compliance with CMS requirements, the facility would have faced fines from the State of Wyoming, Stith said.
“This bill would have put our medical community in a terrible predicament. Under this legislation, Wyoming stood to lose $847 million dollars in care for Wyoming’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Stith. “That loss of funding would decimate our medical facilities throughout the state. If hospitals and nursing homes maintain CMS requirements, this legislation would impose fines on those establishments.”
Stith also said the bill would have raised key constitutionality questions under the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution.
“HB 66 would have endangered and threatened the pillars of Wyoming communities– our businesses, our nursing homes, and our hospitals,” he said. “Although I understand the philosophy behind it, the bill itself could not live in Wyoming’s reality without creating dangerous repercussions for Wyoming’s economy, our most vulnerable citizens, the health care community and our state and her people as a whole.”