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Attorney General Derek Schmidt joins in lawsuit over OSHA vaccine mandate

Coronavirus in Kansas

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt holds a news conference, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Behind him are Senate President Ty Masterson, left, R-Andover, and House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr., right, R-Olathe. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas is included in a federal lawsuit filed today that challenges the new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) federal vaccine mandate for private employers with more than 100 employees.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt joined six other state attorneys general in filing a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. The new mandate requires that employees either be vaccinated or receive frequent testing for COVID-19 and applies to all private-sector employers with 100 or more employees across Kansas.

The other attorneys general joining Schmidt come from Kentucky, Idaho, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia. There is another lawsuit involving 11 states.

The filings submitted today ask the court to review the legality of the new mandate with the argument that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration lacks the statutory and constitutional authority to issue it.

“Nothing in federal law gives OSHA this kind of far-reaching authority,” Schmidt said in a news release. “Businesses that do not comply would be subject to steep fines. And to make matters worse, state and federal governments have just announced they will stop paying the cost of testing for businesses, shifting that cost onto businesses themselves.”

The seven attorneys general also plan to file a motion asking the court to stay the mandate pending the outcome of the case.

“The net effect of this overreaching federal mandate is to discourage private businesses from employing unvaccinated workers by making it more costly, once again threatening the livelihood of many Kansas workers and businesses and promising more disruptions to supply chains nationwide,” Schmidt said.

The coalition of attorneys general will argue that authority does not extend to risks that are equally prevalent at work and in society at large.

The coalition’s statement points out that each state has “enacted its own laws and policies” that create a balance between public health and the rights of its citizens.

“As I have said many times, I encourage Kansans to be vaccinated, but that personal health care decision should be made by each individual and not mandated by the federal government,” Schmidt said. “At a time when Kansas employers and employees are desperately seeking a return to normalcy, this mandate would further disrupt and impede their efforts in private workplaces all across Kansas.”

This is the second case filed by Schmidt that challenges the federal government’s attempts to mandate vaccination across the country.

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