Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey is blocking efforts in her state to pass an across-the-board ban for coronavirus vaccine mandates.
As lawmakers convened for a week-long special session on redistricting Thursday, several demanded the governor add vaccine mandate protections to the agenda. The pressure comes as businesses with 100 employees or more prepare to follow a federal mandate handed down by President Joe Biden in the form of a press release.
“The Biden Administration is out of control, and needs to be challenged on these unconstitutional and un-American mandates,” state GOP Chairman John Wahl said in a statement supporting the push in Montgomery to ban medical coercion. “I want to see Alabama leading the charge to defend the rights and freedoms of our citizens… The Alabama Republican Party fully supports legislation opposing vaccine mandates in the upcoming special session.”
While Ivey signed an executive order barring mandates across state agencies on Monday, the governor’s ban does not apply to private businesses, as do new protections in Texas and Montana.
The federal government’s overreach has given us no other option, but to begin taking action, which is why I am issuing this EO to fight these covid-19 vaccine mandates. As long as I’m governor, AL will not force anyone to take the vaccine. #alpolitics ➡️ https://t.co/d490Ogyevf
— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) October 25, 2021
Ivey however, says Biden’s federal mandate should be challenged by the courts and not statehouse legislation.
“[It] makes no sense to have a federal law and state law at odds,” she said in a Mobile speech Tuesday, according to the local outlet AL.com, arguing such a law would place employers in a “bad position” of conflicting rules.
The explanation contradicts Ivey’s own order placing state agencies in such conflict with the federal government. No litigation can be launched, however, until President Biden implements his mandate with an official directive through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) beyond a press conference.
While six different anti-vaccine mandate bills fill the state Senate, Ivey has so far refused to allow any be adopted under the governor’s official call for the special session. Failure for Ivey to include them on the legislative calendar raises their threshold for passage to a two-thirds majority.
Ivey did not respond to The Federalist’s inquiries about whether she would relent.
Alabama Republican House Speaker Mac McCutcheon supports the governor’s apparent cop-out demand rhat Biden’s mandate be challenged in the judiciary rather than legislative action.
“The legislative body leadership is fully supportive of the governor’s executive order as well as working with the attorney general to find a solution,” McCutcheon told the Alabama Daily News. “But the last think we want to do is have a knee-jerk reaction to something that may sound good politically but in substance, what does it do?”
Republican businessman Tim James, who is a potential candidate for governor next year, is asking a similar question of Ivey’s current executive order. On the same day Ivey signed her directive, Auburn University declared the school would move forward with a requirement that employees provide proof of vaccination by Dec. 8.
“The executive order reads more like a ‘resolution’ which expresses an ‘opinion or will’ more than a force of law,” James said, according to Yellowhammer News. “The teeth of this executive order wouldn’t bite through a stick of butter as evidenced by Auburn University’s disrespectful response… We need a legislative act of law passed by the legislature and signed by the governor against any employer mandate, both public and private.”
Others in the state blasted the order as “horribly insufficient,” in Republican Auditor Jim Zeigler’s words, because “it protects only the state workers of the executive branch” and not private employees. Zeigler, who is also a potential gubernatorial candidate next year, added a political cartoon mocking Ivey on Twitter.
— Auditor Jim Zeigler (@jimzeigler) October 25, 2021
In July, Biden praised Ivey’s efforts to get residents to accept the vaccines.
“You notice a lot of our very conservative friends have finally had an altar call. They’ve seen the Lord,” Biden said at a summer campaign event for former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “Thank God the governor of Alabama, at one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, is now.”
According to a telephone poll conducted by the Alabama Republican Party Oct. 16-18, voters in the state where the GOP controls supermajorities in the capital overwhelmingly rejected support for Biden’s mandatory needle-jab. Nearly 65 percent said they were opposed, while more than 35 percent reported being in favor. The survey was completed with a +/- 3.5 percent margin of error.