Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed an executive order calling for state agencies not to impose penalties on businesses or individuals who do not abide by federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates, News 19 reported.
Ivey slammed President Joe Biden's new vaccine mandates, which are scheduled to go into effect Dec. 8, calling them an "outrageous overreach" and insisted Alabamians "must have the choice" to get the shots or not, The Hill reported.
The governor added, "the federal government's outrageous overreach has simply given us no other option, but to begin taking action, which is why I am issuing this executive order to fight these egregious COVID-19 vaccine mandates.”
"While President Biden laughs at the idea of protecting your freedoms, I will continue fighting for Alabama businesses and their employees," Ivey said, adding, "as long as I am your governor, the state of Alabama will not force anyone to take a COVID-19 vaccine."
Under Ivey's executive order, state agencies are barred from penalizing employees or businesses for failure to comply with the federal mandates, which state that businesses with at least 100 workers must require them to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing for the coronavirus.
However, legal experts said the executive order only provides protection for those who are working for the state's executive branch, News 19 reported.
Alabama State Sen. Arthur Orr said the "executive order does nothing when it comes to employers or employees outside of state government," with Huntsville Attorney Mark McDaniel explaining, until a case "goes to the United States Supreme Court, the federal mandate is going to take precedent over anything in the state that happens in the state."
Universities in the state said they intend to follow the federal mandate for contractors, having informed employees they would have to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8, AL.com reported.
"Because this vaccination requirement is mandated by the federal government, our institutions do not have flexibility in its application or enforcement," said Lynn Lowe Cole, a spokeswoman for the University of Alabama system. "Failure to comply will place our universities in jeopardy of losing hundreds of millions of dollars received through federal contracts and awards, as well as thousands of jobs funded by those dollars."
Republican officials in several other states have also condemned Biden's federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates, saying they are unconstitutional violations of individual rights, according to The Hill.
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