Vaccine Exemption Bill passed in Utah Legislature

View of the Utah Capitol, where the Utah State Legislature convened in a special session tp discuss bills such as the vaccine exemption bill. (Emma Keddington)

The Utah State Legislature met in a special session sanctioned by Gov. Spencer Cox to vote on a bill that contests the recent vaccine mandate put forth by the Biden Administration. 

SB 2004, a bill sponsored by Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-Draper, will require employers to relieve employees of a COVID-19 vaccination mandate under certain conditions, along with prohibiting adverse action against employees who claim exemption from the vaccine.

This bill comes in light of a recent lawsuit put forth by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to contest the Biden Administration’s workplace vaccine mandate. 

Utah’s Attorney General Sean Reyes, along with Senate President J. Stuart Adams, House Speaker Brad Wilson, and State Auditor John Dougall have expressed support of the fight against the mandate. “Utahans have made it clear they expect the state to oppose this heavy-handed overreach, and each of us will act in our capacities to do so,” they said in an official joint statement.

SB2004 was discussed in depth during an interim committee meeting led by Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, who turned time over to Cullimore to present the bill to the committee. 

Sen. Kirk Cullimore presented bill SB2004, which will allow employers to exempt employees from the COVID-19 vaccine. (Emma Keddington)

“Individuals rights should trump those of business rights,” Cullimore said. He expressed his desire to strike a balance between the two with SB 2004, which will require three exemptions to be recognized by businesses, including medical, religious and those based on “strongly held personal belief.” 

Members of the public were given space to voice their opinions on SB2004. The room was filled with people expressing their support of this bill, with all those who spoke were in favor of the bill being passed.

“This should not be a difficult decision. Please support this bill and protect the citizens of Utah from Government overreach,” said Gloria Vendez of Utah Parents United, a sentiment echoed by the other members of the public who spoke.

After a motion on Tuesday evening from Cullimore to circle the bill so that public input may be addressed, the Senate met together Wednesday morning to vote on SB2004, which passed with a 21-6 vote.  

On Wednesday evening, the bill was passed in the House with a 24-5 vote, and will now move forward for Cox to sign into law.

Also part of this special session was the recent Salt Lake County redistricting bill, which will make it difficult for Democrats to win in the county. The bill passed with a 22-7 vote.

Along with this, the bill to rename Dixie State to Utah Tech University passed through the legislature in a 17-12 vote. 

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