In the last month, federal courts have put a hold on three of President Biden's vaccine mandates. This is a win for Oklahoma and other states. Our state Legislature anticipated these types of actions, which is why they pushed HB 1236 during last session and gave the Oklahoma attorney general more power to fight the federal overreach.
Coupled with funds the Legislature appropriated to the AG's Office, Oklahoma is doing everything it can to push back against unconstitutional federal actions. While the AG is well-positioned to continue the fight on the federal level, we must likewise guard against any state legislative-led mandates that go the opposite direction, preventing businesses from making their own rules for unique circumstances.
For the past 18 months, business owners have navigated once-in-a-lifetime challenges, and most strived to put employees and customers first. Businesses across Oklahoma have been agile in their approach while attempting to function in a new normal.
The goal of Biden's action, and a minor chorus of legislators at the state level, is to remove the choice businesses have to enact strategies that fit their own unique circumstances. The mandates we've seen on the federal level, and those rumored on the state level, are laced with political rhetoric. And the reality of these actions-prohibiting the requirement of vaccine or requiring a vaccine be taken-puts a government's interest ahead of all others and will have unforeseen ripple effects for generations.
Companies have an obligation to maintain safe workspaces. However, a one-size-fits-all approach in either direction is unwise. A major, global company that interfaces with millions of individuals has a unique set of concerns compared to a small business with two employees, for example.
At a time when employers are experiencing difficulty finding skilled workers, tying their hands with state mandates on top of federal mandates-which are failing in court- is making an already difficult workforce environment worse.
Instead of spending months continuing to talk about mandates and dealing with political theater aimed at helping elected officials win voter brownie points, I hope we can shift our focus to 2022. We need to find ways to live with the virus and explore opportunities to support job creators and their employees who are keeping our economy going, instead of penalizing them with another set of government mandates.