Reynolds planning legal action against federal vaccine mandates

Several other states have announced intent to challenge federal regulations requiring companies with 100+ employees to mandate vaccines or require unvaccinated employees to be tested weekly for COVID-19.


Grace Smith

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is seen at a groundbreaking ceremony at the North Liberty University of Iowa hospitals and clinics construction site on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021.

Rylee Wilson, Managing Editor

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state plans to take “immediate legal action” against new federal vaccine requirements enacted Thursday. 

Under new regulations from the Biden administration, all companies with more than 100 employees must require employees to be vaccinated by Jan. 4, or comply with weekly COVID-19 testing. 

“I believe the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19, but I also firmly believe in Iowans’ right to make healthcare decisions based on what’s best for themselves and their families, and I remain committed to protecting those freedoms,” Reynolds, a Republican, said in a Thursday press release. “President Biden should do the same.” 

Several other Republican-led states have announced intent to challenge the mandate, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, and South Dakota. 

Reynolds said the mandate forces workers to choose between their jobs and their personal beliefs. 

“Biden’s actions will only worsen the existing workforce shortages and supply chain issues that hinder our economic recovery,” Reynolds said. 

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, commended Reynolds for challenging the mandate in a prepared statement released Thursday. 

“Resisting this federal overreach through the lawsuit Governor Reynolds is joining is the right path for Iowa. I look forward to a swift and expansive suspension of this rule,” Whitver said. 

In a press availability, Iowa Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, said that Republicans are offering no solutions to reining in the pandemic.

“The Biden administration has been very clear that they’re going to crush the COVID-19 virus,” Wahls said. “We know that this is a pandemic that is now stretching into its second year, and I think people are ready to turn the page and for life to get back to normal, and the way that we do that is getting more shorts in arms.” 

Last week, the Iowa Legislature passed a bill allowing exemptions to vaccine mandates for medical and religious reasons, and making unemployment benefits available to employees who are fired for resisting vaccine mandates. 

The bill passed with bipartisan support, passing 67-27 in the House and 45-4 in the Senate. 

Wahls said during the press availability that the question of how the federal vaccine mandates and Iowa’s exemption law will intersect will likely have to be answered by the courts. 

“Last week, we certainly saw some folks within my own party support the law that was signed because of the specific piece around unemployment and wanting to make sure that safety net is there for families that need it,” Wahls said. “But I do think there’s substantial concern about how those two laws are going to intersect, on the exemption piece in particular.”