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GOP lawmakers may seek 'personal' exemption to COVID-19 vaccine mandates

State of Utah: Capitol Building (File photo:{ } KUTV)
State of Utah: Capitol Building (File photo: KUTV)
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Utah House Republicans, in a closed-door caucus Wednesday, raised the notion of expanding exemptions to vaccine mandates—beyond religious and medical—to include “personal” exemptions.

It was not a formal position, and it might not happen, but the idea won discussion among GOP lawmakers, some of whom having been inundated by emails, with many people opposing vaccine mandates from President Joseph Biden, and demanding Utah lawmakers do something to blunt them.

While lawmakers had lunch and talked, a computer programmer outside the Utah State Capitol Building told 2News he’s been on unpaid leave for weeks, because he refused to reveal to his employer whether he had been vaccinated.

“I told them my medical status was none of their business,” said the man, who did not want to be identified.

“You will not seek an exemption?” 2News asked.

“No, I don’t recognize their right to ask,” he replied.

“You won’t get tested in lieu of vaccination?“

“No,” he said.

“So what will you do?”

“Well, if I have to, I’ll find another job.”

Rep. Phil Lyman, R-San Juan County, said the Legislature has been slow to act against mandates.

“Heaven help us for the things we haven’t done in the Legislature to protect these people,” Lyman said, “because it’s very real.“

Rep. Jennifer Dailey-Provost, D-Salt Lake, said she is “not against” the Biden mandates, and sounded what seemed a traditionally-Republican stance.

“If a business feels it their civic duty to keep employees safe, their customer safe, to keep their clientele safe,” said Dailey-Provost. “It is not the role of government to tell them how to run their business.”

Further, she noted frequent testing will be an option, instead of vaccines, for employees at companies with more than a hundred workers.

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Once the Biden vaccine mandate order is issued, Utah is expected to join a legal challenge to the mandates.

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