LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FROM
REP. JEREMY MUNSON - DISTRICT 23B
Friday, October 8th, 2021 --
Earlier this week, Governor Tim Walz announced that he wants vaccine mandates required in government schools. Specifically, Governor Walz handed down a list of demands to legislators asking us to vote on vaccine mandates for teachers and school staff. Furthermore, he wants the Minnesota Legislature to enact “other mitigation strategies” in schools. He claims these “mitigation strategies” will help children learn safely. These new demands have only been sent because Walz knows he cannot act unilaterally to violate our liberties.
Fortunately, current Minnesota law is very clear on this issue. Minnesota Statutes 12.39 explicitly states that: “individuals have a fundamental right to refuse medical treatment, testing, physical or mental examination, vaccination, participation in experimental procedures and protocols, collection of specimens, and preventive treatment programs.” Governor Walz’s office has even admitted that Minnesota Statutes 12.39 prevents the governor from issuing a vaccine mandate via executive order. The governor’s deputy chief of staff publicly stated, “the governor’s office has read this statute and said it is likely that it would not allow the governor to mandate vaccines for schools.” You can read the entire statue for yourself HERE.
In any case, Governor Walz’s dictatorial ambitions have been curtailed by the law. He knows he cannot legally impose a vaccine mandate on his own, but that is not stopping him from trying to convince legislators to change the law and introduce vaccine mandates. While Governor Walz cannot personally issue a vaccine mandate he is not letting that stand in his way.
I do not and will not support a government vaccine mandate. Minnesota’s vaccination rate is already one of the highest in the union. Inaction by the legislature means the legislature understands its role and respects the freedom of Minnesotans to take care of themselves and their families.
Vaccine Mandate at the U of MN
This week we had a major victory in the battle for medical freedom. This past Wednesday the University of Minnesota reversed an important decision on vaccine mandates. A brave U of M Duluth student, with naturally acquired antibodies, filed a lawsuit against the school over the mandate requesting an injunction against the school.
In a brief filed on Tuesday responding to the motion for an injunction, a lawyer representing the U of M System argued that "a 'religious belief' may include certain non-theistic moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong that are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views." Essentially they are trying to save face for comments made by the U of M President that specifically deem conscientious exemptions as not valid. On August 13, University President Joan Gabel announced to the board of Regents that the school would be implementing a vaccination mandate for students, and would accept medical and religious exemptions. However, Gabel specifically noted that the school would accept no other forms of exemptions. Gabel even required students seeking a religious exemption to prove how the vaccine violates their faith. If they could not prove this to the school they could deny them that exemption; of the 1,400 exemptions received the college rejected 136 of them.
This runs counter to the Minnesota College Immunization law. The law mandates exemptions for all immunizations, including “those conscientiously held” beliefs, including those that are not religious. Gabel’s vaccine mandate flew directly in the face of this law. Fortunately, the school's lawyers saw the writing on the wall for this case and decided to actually follow the law.
Any student seeking an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine has until the end of the day today to submit an exemption for conscious and religious reasons. Sam Diehl, the student’s attorney, said while his client's dilemma has been resolved in time for the university's vaccine reporting deadline, the lawsuit is still active. Ultimately, he wants a judge to rule on whether the U of M's COVID-19 vaccine mandate is lawful.