Gov. Spencer Cox forcefully vowed to stop any effort by lawmakers to prevent private companies from requiring employees to get vaccinated.
During his regular KUED news conference, Cox was asked if a bill to prevent private companies from imposing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate was “dead on arrival” if the Legislature sent one to his desk.
“Yes,” Cox said to stunned silence from members of the media.
Before that answer, Cox seemed to be trying to find a middle path while working overtime not to offend those on either side of the issue.
“A couple of months ago we had a conversation with you all where we said we supported businesses in their decision on whether or not to require vaccines, and I continue to do that. I know that can be maddening to some,” Cox said.
Cox says he opposes any government mandate for the private sector when it comes to the COVID vaccine, no matter what the endgame may be.
“A mandate not to allow businesses to have mandates is a mandate in and of itself, and it’s government still telling businesses what they can and cannot do,” Cox said.
Cox’s overt threat to veto any such measure comes just days before Utah lawmakers are set to hold a special committee hearing to get public input on how they should respond to a proposal from President Joe Biden that would require some large businesses to either require employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. Those companies that don’t comply would face large fines.
Utah Republicans have been incensed since Biden announced his proposal. The state party’s central committee passed a resolution opposing vaccine mandates of any kind. Sen. Mike Lee wrote several bills to block federal vaccine mandates. So far, his efforts have been shot down in the Senate.
Even though he believes government should not tell businesses what to do, Cox applauded efforts by the private sector to get employees vaccinated.
“The Utah Jazz recently said they’re going to require either a test or a vaccine,” Cox said, referring to the team’s policy for fans this season, “and that’s their right to do so.”
But, even those efforts could face some resistance in the Utah Legislature. Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-Draper, is exploring legislation to hold private companies that mandate vaccinations for employees liable for any adverse effects from those inoculations.