County approves proclamation in opposition to vaccine mandate

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

Leavenworth County commissioners have approved a proclamation in protest of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate issued by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The proclamation, which was voted on Wednesday, urges lawmakers at the federal level to vote to suspend or nullify the mandate. The proclamation also urges state lawmakers to pass legislation that opposes the federal mandate.

Copies of the county proclamation will be sent to state and federal lawmakers who represent Leavenworth County, according to County Administrator Mark Loughry.

OSHA issued an emergency temporary standard Nov. 4 that calls for businesses that employ 100 or more people to require employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to weekly testing.

The standard issued by OSHA has faced a number of legal challenges. OSHA stated on its website that it has suspended implementation and enforcement of the emergency temporary standard after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted a motion to stay the ETS on Nov. 12.

Kansas legislators are scheduled to meet next week in a special session to consider legislation to challenge mandates from President Joe Biden's administration.

Gov. Laura Kelly called for the special session after legislators submitted a sufficient number of signatures from their members to successfully petition for the session.

County commissioners considered their proclamation Wednesday at the request of Commissioner Mike Stieben. He made the request during a meeting last week.

"There's just a lot of concern out there on the part of a lot of people," Stieben said last week.

County Counselor David Van Parys said last week that he does not believe the county government would be subject to the OSHA vaccine and testing regulations. But he said private employers in Leavenworth County would be subject to these regulations.

During Wednesday's meeting, Stieben called the vaccine mandate from OSHA a "federal overreach."

The proclamation encourages employers, employees and parents of school children to express their opposition to the mandate to their state and federal representatives.

The proclamation was approved by a 4-0 vote. County Commission Chairman Mike Smith was absent Wednesday.

In Smith's absence, Commissioner Vicky Kaaz was elected to serve as the temporary chairwoman of the commission.

It is anticipated Smith will be absent again next week, so commissioners voted for Kaaz to continue to serve as the temporary chairwoman.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Approved a bid from KanEquip, Wamego, for a five-year lease of a 2022 New Holland four-wheel drive tractor. The tractor will be used by the Public Works Department. The county will be charged $11,311 per year for the lease of the tractor for a total five-year cost of $56,555.

• Authorized a one-year renewal contract with Spectrum Enterprise, which provides a primary rate interface circuit for the county's phone system.

The county will be charged $478 per month for this service.

• Voted to allow the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office to sell a 2001 Ford F-150 to the Sherman Township Fire Department for $1.

• Approved a memorandum of understanding between the county's Council on Aging and The Deeper Window Association.