Reynolds, Lawmakers In Talks To Combat Federal Vaccine Mandates

by Katie Akin, Iowa Capital Dispatch
October 14, 2021

Gov. Kim Reynolds said she’s in talks with lawmakers to combat vaccine mandates at private businesses, but she does not plan to issue an executive order on the issue.

“(Iowans) have said enough is enough,” Reynolds said during a WHO Radio interview Wednesday.“They are tired of the overreach, they are tired of the mandates.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued an executive order to prohibit private businesses in Texas from requiring COVID-19 vaccines. The move comes in opposition to a federal requirement that private businesses with more than 100 employees mandate vaccines or regular, mandatory testing for employees.

An NBC station in Austin reported that businesses were torn between following the federal rule, which will be enforced through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or the governor’s orders.

Reynolds said Wednesday she could not issue a similar executive order in Iowa due to the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branch.

“I can’t fix one unconstitutional mandate with another unconstitutional mandate,” she said. 

iHeart Radio Host Simon Conway asked Reynolds if she could instead ask lawmakers to consider legislation against vaccine mandates during the special session on redistricting. Reynolds responded that she is having “great conversations” with lawmakers about the issue.

“We’re working together to see what our options are,” she said.

Reynolds did not reveal whether lawmakers would take action during the special session. She told listeners to “stay tuned.”

Lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene at the Capitol on Oct. 28 to vote on the second set of proposed redistricting maps. Republican leadership met with anti-vaccine protesters during the first redistricting session, but they did not bring any legislation on vaccines to the floor.

“I just got through this one,” Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver said when asked if any additional agenda items would appear in the next special session. “I haven’t even thought about what the next special session looks like.”

But Whitver, R-Ankeny, noted that it could be difficult to combat federal mandates.

“To solve that is a really difficult thing to do from the state capital. I mean, these are really federal issues that override state law,” he said. “While there’s concerns, there’s a process that’s probably going to happen in the courts to try to solve the vaccine mandates coming out of the Biden administration.”

Reynolds said Wednesday the state is ready to take legal action when President Joe Biden’s OSHA requirements are finalized. Iowa wouldn’t be the only one to challenge the law: Attorneys general of 24 other states signed onto a letter in September threatening to sue the Biden administration over the vaccine requirement at private businesses.

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: [email protected] Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

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