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Alaska one of 26 states to file lawsuits challenging Biden’s vaccine mandate for large companies

Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 12:43 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska is one of 26 states that officially filed federal lawsuits on Friday challenging the validity of President Joe Biden’s mandate that private employers with at least 100 employees require vaccination or test unvaccinated employees weekly.

Biden’s mandate was issued on Sept. 9. On Thursday, the deadline was formally announced as Jan. 4, according to an emergency temporary standard issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Alaska joined a lawsuit filed Friday by the Missouri attorney general on behalf of 11 states. The rest of the 26 total states also formed coalitions to file their lawsuits.

“The Biden Administration’s OSHA rule was a longtime coming and we have been preparing for months now in anticipation,” said Gov. Dunleavy. President Biden’s attempt to force mandates upon the nation is unconstitutional – it is an attack against the individual’s freedom and a threat against liberty. My administration previously issued an Administrative Order which represents my commitment to Alaskans against President Biden’s vaccine mandates. Alaskans can rest assured I will take every action possible to defend them and their rights. I am not anti-vaccine; I am anti-mandate, and I will stand up against federal overreach.”

The lawsuit filed Friday is separate from the one filed last week by 10 states including Alaska. That lawsuit challenged Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors, which gave a Dec. 8 deadline for businesses with existing contracts or those who wish to obtain federal contracts in in the future to comply.

Dunleavy issued an administrative order on Nov. 2 further clarifying his intent to push back against Biden’s mandates.

“If Congress has not passed clear and specific legislation authorizing action, the federal government cannot impose it’s will on states and their residents,” wrote Dunleavy.

The order says that state agencies cannot use funds or personnel, using the caveat “to further a federal vaccine mandate for employers ... to the extent allowable by law.”

The mandate for employers of over 100 people will potentially affect over 1,000 Alaskan employers, according to the University of Alaska’s Small Business Development Center Executive Director Jon Bittner.

“The ones having trouble filling jobs are probably going to look at this as a net positive, the ones afraid they’ll lose employees less so,” Bittner said.

There are over 193 million people in the U.S. who have been fully vaccinated, which accounts for 58.2% of the entire population. In Alaska, 365,682 residents over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated, which makes up 60.6% of the state’s population. While there is existing court precedent set regarding mandated vaccinations, Dunleavy further published an op-ed detailing his position on the previous vaccine mandate for federal contractors.

“OSHA’s emergency temporary standard violates the separation of powers and infringes upon the right of all Americans to decide for themselves whether a COVID-19 vaccine is right for them,” Attorney General Taylor said. “This mandate is unconstitutional, and we have made strong arguments as to why the courts should block implementation of OSHA’s rule.”

The rate of new COVID-19 cases per capita over the last week in Alaska is 562.9, nearly four times the national rate and the highest of any state in the U.S.

“One of the main problems here is that federal agencies are not being consistent in their application or interpretation of this mandate. The worst-case scenario would be if the contracts are cancelled, causing major financial impacts to all the agencies and to services to the public. We will be pulling more specifics together moving forward,” said Department of Law spokesperson Aaron Sadler on Friday. “Pursuant to the Governor’s administrative order, the Department of Law will challenge this mandate, and we expect to take action after the rule is formally published on Friday.”

Alaska joined Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming by entering the petition filed on Friday.

“The President is not a king and he does not get to make up the law and control the individual,” said Dunleavy. “This is why he lost the eviction moratorium and why he will lose again. Health measures are a traditional state and local power under the 10th Amendment.”

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