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Kansas AG urges OSHA to withdraw vaccine mandate after Supreme Court calls it a likely overstep

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Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 11:14 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the OSHA COVID-19 vaccine mandate to likely be an overstep, the Kansas Attorney General has urged the Administration to withdraw it.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he has called on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to withdraw its proposed requirement of private companies with over 100 employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccines or frequent employee testing.

On Wednesday, Jan. 19, Schmidt said he joined 26 other state attorneys general to comment on OSHA’s proposed regulation. They filed the formal statement on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling to a legal challenge brought by Schmidt and others against the Biden administration.

Despite the fact that the Court ruled OSHA likely exceeded its legal authority to implement an Emergency Temporary Standard and preliminary blocked it while litigation proceeds, Schmidt said OSHA has indicated it will not formally withdraw the requirement.

Schmidt said the OSHA ETS would require tens of millions of private employees to be vaccinated against the virus or undergo continual testing as a condition of employment, with the cost of testing typically being put on the employee.

In the letter, Schmidt and the coalition said the current mandate is illegal because the agency does not have the authority to issue a broad vaccine mandate for larger employers.

“[T]he [Occupational Safety and Health] Act was designed to address dangers employees face at work because of their work—not dangers that are no more prevalent at work than in society generally,” the attorneys wrote. “The United States Supreme Court agrees and held that the ETS—or any similar permanent standard for that matter—fails to address a unique workplace hazard and is therefore unlawful.”

Schmidt and the coalition described the economic effect the mandate would have on employers, especially vulnerable small businesses that have struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic.

The AG said the letter was sent to OSHA as part of the federal government’s formal regulatory comment process. He said it is the last step taken in response to the Biden administration’s approach to federal mandates related to the pandemic.

Schmidt also said he challenged the administration’s mandate for health care workers, however, justices in a 5-4 ruling allowed that mandate to go into effect while the lawsuit proceeds. He said two other mandates which affect federal contractors and Head Start childcare programs have also been challenged by his team and are currently blocked by court orders.

To read a full copy of the letter Schmidt filed with OSHA, click HERE.

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