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State Rep. Ritchie Whorton files bill to nullify Biden vaccine mandate — ‘going to kill small businesses if we enforce this’

State Rep. Ritchie Whorton (R-Owens Cross Roads) has pre-filed a bill, titled the “Alabama Health Freedom Act,” which aims to protect workers against employer-mandated vaccines as well as shield businesses from President Joe Biden’s vaccine decree.

Whorton’s House Bill 31 has recently earned the endorsement of Health Freedom Alabama, a statewide grassroots organization whose stated mission is to protect “parental and human rights regarding health care decisions in Alabama.”

The bill takes direct aim at the president’s vaccine edict requiring employers with 100 or more workers to force vaccination upon their workforce or subject them to weekly virus testing. House Bill 31 states that all federal vaccine mandates “shall not be recognized by this state, are specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered void and of no effect in this state.”

Additionally, Whorton’s bill would make it illegal for employers, places of public accommodation and occupational licensing boards to discriminate against individuals regardless of vaccination status. If entities are found to be in violation of the act should it become law, private attorneys or the Alabama Attorney General may take legal action on behalf of the aggrieved party.

Kaycee Cavender, co-director of Health Freedom Alabama, believes the state could potentially face an “economic disaster” should employees be terminated if they choose not to become inoculated against COVID-19.

“The Alabama Health Freedom Act is not only an avenue to secure individual freedom and liberty but will also protect Alabama businesses and the economic development in our state,” said Cavender. “If more than half of our population refuses to take the mandated vaccines and lose their jobs as a result, we will find ourselves in a completely avoidable economic disaster.”

Cavender believes the bill should be considered during a special session of the state legislature so as to resolve the issue before potential harm is caused.

“The livelihood of Alabama citizens and our state economy cannot afford to wait for a regular session in January,” she added. “Alabamians vote with their feet and how they vote next year will be determined by how the Governor and legislature handles this issue now.”

Whorton, a small business owner, tells Yellowhammer News that he believes should the state fail to derail Biden’s vaccine edict, Alabama will suffer economically as a consequence.

“As a business owner, I’m not going to force my employees to get a vaccination if they don’t want it, and I think it’s going to hurt our workforce,” said Whorton. “I may have employees that don’t want to take it and if I fire them that’s going to hurt me and I think it’ll hurt other businesses also.”

The two-term North Alabama legislator noted that his office is fielding concerns from workers and small businesses alike who are fiercely opposed to the mandate.

“You know, I left a company here in my district… they have over 100 employees and they’re not for that,” he advised. “They don’t want to force their employees to get vaxxed and I don’t blame them. It’s an individual choice – I’m not against vaccinations. If you want to get vaxxed, it’s your priority… but I’m not for a mandate either.”

Whorton added, “You’ve got a lot of people that’s not going to do it and they’re going to be searching for another job,” further stating that “it’s going to kill small businesses if we enforce this.”

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL