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Wyoming ban on vaccine rules for customers clears hurdle

October 27, 2021 GMT

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Concerns about business owners’ rights didn’t prevent Wyoming lawmakers holding a special legislative session Wednesday from advancing a bill that would prohibit them from singling out customers based on their COVID-19 vaccination status.

The bill barring businesses from denying services and insurance companies from denying coverage for unvaccinated people cleared the Wyoming Senate on an 18-10 vote.

It’s one of 20 bills before state lawmakers in a special session begun Tuesday to counter President Joe Biden’s plan to require vaccination for certain workers in government, health care and elsewhere in the private sector. Only a handful of those bills appear headed forward so far.

The Senate debated the vaccine-status bill for the first time after adopting committee-recommended changes to allow insurers to raise premiums and provide other incentives for unvaccinated customers to get the shots.

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“We felt that we were venturing a little too far there,” explained Sen. Sheri Steinmetz, R-Lingle, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee that worked the bill earlier in the day.

Several senators said the bill, which faces two more Senate readings before possibly heading to the House, was flawed but deserved a hearing and more work. Senators opposed can always vote against it on third and final reading, pointed out Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs.

“We’re here folks. Let’s do the debates. Let’s work with this,” Hicks said.

Even so, much of the debate over the bill resembled one Tuesday over whether to even go ahead with the special session, which some lawmakers see as generally interfering with business.

A mother looking for day care providers might want to choose one where all employees are known to be vaccinated, Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, said of the bill debated Wednesday.

“It’s a private business, private money, I want the best for my child,” Case said. “Why isn’t that my right? Why are you interfering with that right?”