Utah Republican leaders rage against proposed federal mandate on COVID-19 vaccine

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Senate Speaker Stuart Adams said lawmakers plan to meet in special session to meet any vaccine requirements.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Senate Speaker Stuart Adams R-Layton speaks about rejection of mandatory vaccines at the Utah Republican Party Central Committee meeting on September 18, 2021 at Layton High School .

Anger over vaccination warrants and federal overreach was a priority among a sparse group of Utah Republican leaders who met at Layton High School on Saturday morning.

Republicans in Utah have been in a daze since President Joe Biden announced new rules requiring private companies with more than 100 employees to require either vaccinations for workers or mandatory testing, with fines for non- compliance.

Earlier this week, the Republican House and Senate caucuses took a stand against Biden’s actions. Attorney General Sean Reyes has joined two dozen other states in a letter to the Biden administration threatening legal action if they move forward with the plan. Gov. Spencer Cox said on Friday he was opposed to Biden’s actions.

“I have never seen a president do something as expensive as this term,” said Senate Speaker Stuart Adams, R-Layton.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Larry Meyers of St. George attends the Utah Republican Party Central Committee meeting on September 18, 2021 at Layton High School.

Adams said lawmakers plan to meet in special session to offer a legislative response to the vaccine mandate for private companies once it is made public. They are also planning a special meeting of the Management and Union Committee on October 4 to allow business owners and employees to give their opinion to the public on the mandates.

There is hope that any rule emerging from the Biden administration will be blocked by the courts.

“We hope this will come to an end before it is implemented. We have to wait for the rule to be published, and we expect it within the next two weeks, ”said Melissa Holyoak, Solicitor General of Utah.

The 96 members of the Utah GOP governing body who attended the meeting also overwhelmingly approved a resolution opposing any vaccine mandate.

“President Biden said he lacked patience. He is not the only one. The people of the United States are at the end of their patience and are very angry with the executive hype that is happening not only at the federal level but also here in Utah, ”said Volney Morin, GOP Chairman. of Iron County.

The resolution tries to follow a very fine line of rhetoric given the hypercharged politics around the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The Utah Republican Party recognizes the historic efficacy of proven vaccines in public health, but rejects mandatory vaccination policies, regardless of FDA approval, and rejects ‘vaccine passport’ proposals,” health passports ”or similar state, country or world wide. policies, ”one section of the resolution reads.

Utah requires school-aged children to receive multiple vaccines before they are allowed to attend class. The resolution’s opposition to warrants of any kind apparently runs counter to this policy.

Utah County sponsor Brandon Beckham said he’s not opposed to vaccines, but people should be given a choice whether or not to take them.

“The point of this resolution is not whether we are for or against vaccinations. The point of this is that we rely on the freedom to choose as individuals if we want to be vaccinated, ”Beckham said.

Utah GOP overwhelmingly opposes Dixie State name change

The committee overwhelmingly approved another resolution opposing the effort to change the name of Dixie State University.

The school’s board of trustees voted in June to change the school’s name to Utah Tech University, as students said the term “Dixie” referred to racist associations, which was detrimental to their prospects for success. use.

Jimi Kestin of Washington County, sponsor of the resolution, said the Utah GOP should reject any name change because they believe any racist overtones surrounding “Dixie” are exaggerated.

“Dixie from Utah is not named after the pre-war south. It is named so because we are the southern part of the state. This name was born from amazing pioneers who built an amazing community out of a wilderness that was very off-putting when they got there, ”Kestin said.

Other supporters worried about the specter of “culture cancellation” which they said prompted the name change.

“Changing the name of the university is part of this culture of cancellation that prevails in our country. We want to preserve our history and learn from our history. If we allow this institution to fall into the trash of history then I fear what will happen is people will not vote for a party or candidate that allows this culture of cancellation to prevail. in this state, ”warned Lowell Nelson of Utah County. .

Just three months ago, those same committee members overwhelmingly approved a resolution opposing the critical race theory that arose out of fears about the way history was presented in classrooms at school. ‘Utah.

We wondered if this was an issue that a political party should address.

“We should focus more on trying to get Republicans elected. When we bring a resolution like this, it tells other Republicans who may disagree that they need to line up. As individuals we can defend one way or another, but when we start hitting people over the head with this as a party, we are telling people who may not be from agree that they are not ours, ”Anthony Loubet of Salt Lake City. The county has warned.

Random Saturday Notes

  • Republicans in Utah will hold their state convention next year on April 23, which is the only date that does not conflict with the semi-annual LDS conference or Easter Sunday. This means that caucus night will take place on March 8, just three days after the end of the 2022 general session. Caucus night in 2020 has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The party has approved the hiring of Maike Jones as new executive director, replacing Laurel Price, who is stepping down. Jones worked on Jon Huntsman’s 2020 gubernatorial campaign. She also served as the head of Utah boards and commissions during the Huntsman administration.

  • Party chairman Carson Jorgensen said central committee members who raise $ 1,000 for the party are invited to a private lunch with Senator Mike Lee. “If we want the party to be viable in the future, we have to fundraise,” Jorgensen said.

  • Jorgensen said it was difficult for the party to find Republicans willing to run and replace Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, who was confirmed as a Utah District Court judge this week. . “It took an inordinate amount of time to find someone to run for this seat. We have to do a better job of talking to people about being part of the party, ”he said.


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