TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – President Biden’s coronavirus shot mandates for big businesses is stirring controversy among business officials and lawmakers in Kansas.
On Friday, Alan Cobb, President and CEO of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, told the Kansas Capitol Bureau that the new requirements are “vast overreach” of the federal government. Putting some businesses in the state on edge.
“They may lose employees over it. It creates division among employees, those who are vaccinated and those who are not, and ultimately, there is a principle here, that the government should not be telling them how to run and operate their business,” Cobb explained.
President Biden announced Thursday nationwide mandates requiring coronavirus vaccines to apply to all businesses with at least 100 workers, not just public workers, but private.
Gov. Laura Kelly released a statement Friday applauding the President’s move as the state awaits further details on the plan.
“From the first day of this pandemic, Governor Kelly has consistently done everything in her power to keep Kansas families safe, kids in school, businesses open and the economy growing – including aggressively leading the charge to get as many shots in arms as possible after the arrival of the vaccine. As this announcement will impact many Kansans, we are still waiting on additional guidance on what this plan means for our residents and our administration needs to thoroughly review it further before we comment on specifics. In the meantime, Kansas families can rest assured that the Governor will continue to make any decisions relating to COVID-19 based on science, not politics.”Kansas Governor Laura Kelly
Some Republican lawmakers are also pushing back at the new order. The Kansas Republican Leadership group released the following statement, referring to the mandate as a form of “tyranny.”
“We are outraged at the overreach of the Biden administration in attempting to push its agenda through executive fiat. Tyranny through executive order is not how we govern in a free society. Kansas Senate Republicans will oppose this unconstitutional overreach by every means available. We will stand for freedom and we will protect the rights of our citizens.”STATEMENT, KANSAS REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP
Some groups have fired back at GOP lawmakers in the state for spreading misinformation about coronavirus safety protocols as the state faces a surge in cases and hospitalizations. The Kansas Democratic Party called it a “coordinated attack” on science and vaccines.
Sen. Kristen O’Shea, R-Topeka, argued that Republican lawmakers are trying to protect people’s right to choose.
“I still think the best way to get people to be vaccinated is to educate them and encourage them, not require,” O’Shea said.
There are questions over the legality of the Biden administration’s move to require vaccines for private businesses. Some have argued that the government is overstepping its power to protect public health and safety.
However, some Democrats in the state agree with the President’s decision to take action.
“Those who think that the Constitution gives them a right to endanger others’ health by not being vaccinated, and continuing to live their lives in an irresponsible or dangerous fashion, they’re wrong,” said Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita.
Carmichael emphasized that the coronavirus pandemic is “more deadly” than other viruses in the past, and it pushed the administration “to act,” arguing that the law has always provided that in times of pandemic, the government can take the actions that are necessary to protect public health, safety, and welfare.
“If we left the condition of 80 million unvaccinated Americans, emergency rooms overflowing, ICUs full, hospital beds being rationed out… That is not the life that any of us want to live.”