Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed two pieces of legislation Friday designed to curb federal COVID-19 mandates for workers in Alabama, in what the governor has described as “an un-American, outrageous overreach.”
Both pieces of legislation, Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 15, passed in a last-minute scramble at the Statehouse Thursday during the state Legislature’s special session on redistricting, which concluded after the Legislature adjourned sine die Thursday evening.
Ivey previously issued an executive order on Oct. 25, instructing state agencies and institutions not to uphold the Biden administration’s federal vaccine mandate and not penalize workers or businesses who do not comply with the federal mandate. The mandate, which allows the option of weekly testing and mandatory masking for employees who choose not to be vaccinated, requires all employees hired at companies with more than 100 employees receive a COVID-19 vaccination by Jan. 4.
On Oct. 29, Alabama joined five other Republican majority states in filing a federal lawsuit against the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal workers and contractors.
“Last week, when I issued my executive order to fight the overreaching Biden vaccine mandates, I reiterated that as long as I am your governor, the state of Alabama will not force anyone to take the covid-19 vaccine,” Ivey said in a statement released Friday. “From the moment the White House rolled out their scare tactic plans to try to force this vaccine on Americans, I called it for what it is: an un-American, outrageous overreach. Alabamians – including those like myself who are pro-vaccine – are adamantly against this weaponization of the federal government, which is why we simply must fight this any way we know how. That is exactly why I have signed Senate Bills 9 and 15 into law. This is another step in the fight, but we are not done yet.”
Senate Bill 9, sponsored by state Sen. Chris Elliot, R-Fairhope, allows Alabamians to claim medical or religious exemption from taking a COVID-19 vaccine. Senate Bill 15, sponsored by state Sen. Arther Orr, R-Decatur, requires parental consent for minors in Alabama to receive COVID-19 vaccines and restricts Alabama schools from asking about a student’s vaccination status.
Both bills were criticized by the Business Council of Alabama, who said the bills would “cause confusion and place Alabama employers in a no-win position by forcing them to comply with conflicting state and federal laws.”
“From issuing the executive order to joining governors in Georgia, South Carolina and other states in suing the Biden Administration, we are doing everything we can to try to get this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court where, hopefully, this overreach will be stopped dead in its tracks,” Ivey said. “If the Biden Administration presses on with these mandates, the country’s economy will suffer for it. Alabamians – and all Americans – should not have to choose between putting food on the table and getting this shot. I will continue doing everything I can as your governor to fight this thing every step of the way. Alabama will not stand idly by and allow the Biden Administration to get away with this.”