Wyoming Legislature Begins Special Session on Prohibiting Vaccine Mandates
On their first day of the special session, the Wyoming House of Representatives and the Wyoming Senate sent several bills to committees that seek to prohibit COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Those bills are House bill 1001, 1002, 1005, 1006, 1009, and 1013, which were referred to four different committees: Labor, Health and Social Services, Minerals, Business and Economic Development, Appropriations, and the Judiciary committee.
In the Senate, three bills, 1003, 1004, 1009, were referred to the Appropriations and Labor, Health and Social Services committees.
The session started out by discussing potential rules that each chamber would follow, however those rules failed to get a 2/3 vote in favor in either chamber.
Because of this, the legislature will operate under the regular rules and while normally any bill could be proposed, as opposed to the limited number that both chambers would be considering otherwise, Speaker of the House Eric Barlow said they would only refer a certain number of bills to committee.
The rules that were voted down would have required mirror bills, meaning they would have been discussed by both chambers at the same time rather than in one after another, and members would only be able to discuss bills twice for five minutes each, rather than for an for an unlimited amount of time.
The rules were also opposed by several organizations in Wyoming who opposed the lack of public input and transparency the rules would engender.
Jenn Lowe, executive director for the Equality State Policy Center, said she believes that while there is a sense among lawmakers to get through the bills quickly, the amount of the time the legislature will be in the special session isn't set in stone.
The maximum a special session can go is 20 days.
Several members said while discussing the session that they need to get back to their ranches at some point, and so there may be a need to get through things quicker.
While members usually must be in the chambers to discuss and vote on bills, based on the rules each chamber agreed to, House members will be able to participate virtually while Senate members may not.
The House and the Senate voted to adjourn until Wednesday, where they will continue to discuss the various bills that were referred to committees.
While the special session as a whole is focused on the vaccine requirements proposed by President Joe Biden, as a majority of the 20 House bills and 20 Senate bills that were submitted on Oct. 22 are, some differ.
There are several that deal with immunization in general, one from each chamber as it relates to firefighter pensions, and one that corrects an error in attempting to repeal the Wyoming gaming commission.
It is unclear how many of these bills will be considered by committee, as several could be rolled into ones that do reach a full vote.