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Montana, Wyoming plan challenge to federal vaccine & testing requirements


People who work at a company with more than 100 employees will be required to either get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4 or get tested weekly.

Shortly after the U.S. Department of Labor announced the timeline for the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy on Thursday, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen reiterated plans to sue over the rule.

The agency’s rule allows unvaccinated people to continue to work at their companies if they get tested weekly and wear face coverings while at work.
Knudsen plans to file a lawsuit this week challenging the rule. Knudsen in an emailed statement called the temporary rule an “egregious overreach” and said it infringes on people's rights.

The U.S. labor department’s rule also requires employers to determine the vaccination status of each employee.

Vaccine requirements are illegal in Montana under a new state law.
The Montana Medical Association and a group of health care providers are challenging the law. That challenge is pending in federal court in Missoula.

On Friday Gov. Greg Gianforte said in a statement he backs Knudsen's lawsuit against Biden's testing and "heavy-handed" vaccine mandate.

"Not only does President Biden’s mandate violate Montana law banning vaccine-based discrimination, but also it will further strain Montana employers already facing a worker shortage," Gianforte said.

Several other states including Wyoming will join Montana in suing the Biden administration over its vaccine mandate.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon Gordon said in a statement Thursday he won't “allow the rights of Wyoming citizens and her industries to be trampled by federal overreach.”

Wyoming has already challenged President Biden’s executive order mandating vaccines for federal contractors.

On Wednesday the Wyoming Legislature passed a bill allocating $4 million for the lawsuit.

Yellowstone Public Radio's Kay Erickson contributed to this story.

Copyright 2021 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Freddy Monares
Freddy Monares is a reporter and Morning Edition host at Montana Public Radio. He previously worked for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, covered the 2017 Legislature for UM Legislative News Service and interned with the station as a student. He graduated from the University of Montana School of Journalism in 2017.