Gov. Hutchinson: “We will fight the mandate”

Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 11:24 AM CDT|Updated: Nov. 4, 2021 at 4:12 PM CDT
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Gov. Asa Hutchinson addressed new federal mandates requiring all employees of big companies to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.

In his remarks, Gov. Hutchinson said he opposed the federal COVID mandates, saying businesses should be able to make those decisions themselves.

He said the businesses “should have the freedom to decide for themselves what is best for their businesses and their customers.”

Gov. Hutchinson said he supports the planned litigation being considered by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and other states on the issue. He said the mandates would create a “significant constitutional challenge” that would impact businesses at a time of supply and employee shortages, creating a possible government overreach.

The governor also said he believes the regulations would create an impact on the state’s human development centers, including the location in Jonesboro.

Each of the centers in the state would be subject to the regulations and also receive Medicare and Medicaid funding, Gov. Hutchinson said.

Arkansas Department of Human Services Secretary Cindy Gillespie said she believes the regulations could also have an impact on the Arkansas State Hospital and other state medical facilities.

Gov. Hutchinson said the human development center programs also have a high turnover rate.

Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said the regulations could also impact small businesses, including trucking and shipping companies in the state.

The new OSHA rules do not apply to state and local government employees, including educators while employees who provide false documentation of vaccination face criminal charges under the mandate, Gov. Hutchinson said.

Earlier Thursday, officials said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations will also force companies with 100 or more employees to require that unvaccinated workers test negative for COVID-19 at least once a week and wear a mask while in the workplace.

OSHA left open the possibility of expanding the requirement to smaller businesses.

Meanwhile, employees of facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding—including hospitals and nursing homes—will have no option for testing. They must be vaccinated.

Workers will be able to ask for exemptions on medical or religious grounds.

Watch the governor’s remarks live on-air or online>>

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