Gov. Eric Holcomb orders state to continue federal vaccine mandate

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Gov. Eric Holcomb released a statement Thursday ordering the Indiana Department of Labor to work with Attorney General Todd Rokita in a lawsuit over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for large employers.

“This is a move beyond the role of government in the service and protection of Hoosiers,” Holcomb said in a statement. “While I agree that the vaccine is the tool that will best protect against COVID-19, this approach by the federal government is unprecedented and will have negative and unintended consequences in the supply chain and the workforce. “

President Joe Biden announced in September that he would require vaccination warrants for companies with more than 100 employees. Those who do not get the vaccine should be tested weekly.

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His administration released details on vaccine needs on Thursday. Workers will have until January 4, 2022 to get vaccinated or have weekly tests.

The mandate also applies to state and local governments in Indiana, as Indiana has its own federally approved occupational safety and health regulatory program. States with their own plans must adopt requirements that are at least as effective as the requirements of the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

When asked about the rule, a spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Workforce Development said the Holcomb administration would not comment beyond the governor’s statement.

After the warrant was announced in September, Rokita said he was preparing for possible legal action.

“My team and I, along with other like-minded attorneys general, are looking at all legal actions on how to oppose these authoritarian actions by the Biden administration,” Rokita said. “We will be ready to file a complaint if Biden seeks any illegal actions restricting the freedoms of the Hoosiers.”

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The Indiana Democratic Party has criticized Holcomb and Rokita’s threat of legal action.

“The hoes are right. It is their freedom and their choice to receive a COVID-19 vaccine that saves lives. It is also the responsibility of state and federal leaders to help the Hoosier families put the pandemic behind us, ”said Lauren Ganapini, executive director of the Indiana Democratic Party in a statement. The cultural war that Republicans in Indiana have created over vaccines and their benefits is systematically moving Indiana away from returning to a normal pre-COVID life. “

Other Hoosier Republicans criticized Biden for the vaccine tenure.

On Wednesday, Senator Mike Braun announced he was leading a group of 40 other Senate Republicans to challenge Biden’s vaccine mandate under the Congressional Review Act. Republican Senator Hoosier, Todd Young, who is running for re-election in 2022, has also joined the effort.

USA Today reporter Maureen Groppe and IndyStar reporter Binghui Huang contributed to this story.

Call IndyStar reporter Kaitlin Lange at 317-432-9270. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.

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