Democratic Kansas Gov. Kelly Rejects Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

(The opinions expressed in guest op-eds are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of

Gov. Laura Kelly of Kansas broke with the Biden administration’s sweeping nationwide COVID-19 vaccine mandate, calling the move “too late,” while echoing the sentiment of many Republican governors who have stressed the need to continue state-based responses to the pandemic.


“I don’t believe this directive is the correct, or the most effective, solution for Kansas,” said Gov. Kelly in a statement on November 5.

This is a bold statement coming from a Democrat because the Biden administration has consistently scolded anyone not falling in line with federal vaccine mandates as a “science denier.” Either Kelly wants to risk the health of Kansans in an effort to win re-election next year in a tight race. Or, more likely, she understands the mandate for what it is: a federal government power grab that is unconstitutional and anathema to Kansans.

Like many Americans, Kansans have lost faith in the federal government’s role to fight COVID-19. Despite all the government’s attempts to control the pandemic, the lockdowns, the mask orders, and the trillions of dollars that have been spent, the virus is still with us. In fact, the government’s response failed to protect those most at risk from dying from the virus and created additional problems when states chose to lock down their economies, which up until the start of the pandemic, were running on all cylinders.

Gov. Kelly has only to look at her neighbors to know top-down government orders to control a virus have been an abject failure. States like Nebraska, Oklahoma, and South Dakota had some of the least restrictive pandemic orders in the nation, suffered no worse from COVID-19 than other states, and are now leading the nation in unemployment.


Today, federal policies have more to do with cementing the government’s control than serving the public good.

This seems to be the mindset driving the Biden administration’s use of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to turn private businesses into the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine enforcer. This order, which could levy fines for non-compliance up to $700,000, will impact more than half of the nation’s workforce. In Kansas, the order would affect 620,000 private sector workers based on 2019 data by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

If the federal mandate is allowed to continue, it could expand to include businesses with fewer than 100 employees and self-employed Americans, about 400,000 workers. The Biden administration is already considering COVID-19 vaccine proof to fly on commercial flights within the United States.

Biden’s OSHA order, so thick it could be weighed on a household scale, is a whopping 490 pages. Laughably, masks, which are required of workers who refuse the vaccine, get short shrift. The order states “face coverings can be manufactured or homemade, and they can incorporate a variety of designs, structures, and materials.”


“Really?” asks the Committee to Unleash Prosperity. “Sounds less like a safety measure than a punishment for people who decline vaccination.”

Gov. Kelly is smart to recognize a growing number of Americans are onto this ruse. In Kansas, labor unions, a traditional base of the Democratic Party, have already voiced their sentiment on vaccine orders with one union threatening legal action against a large employer before the Biden order came down.

As seen in Virginia’s and New Jersey’s gubernatorial elections on November 2, voters showed they are no longer willing to put up with governors who kowtow to radical policies. States, businesses, school boards, health departments, or any other institution, private or public, are not the proxies of a federal government on steroids.

The American people are good and trusting. However, their patience has limits. Businesses, hospitals, and local units of government must now decide how far is too far in mandating people inject themselves and their children with a vaccine, or risk losing their job, or their place in school. We all must make commonsense decisions to protect ourselves and our families from the virus, and we also must protect ourselves from those who would use it to divide the country to empower and enrich a few.


Americans are speaking up. And politicians, like Gov. Kelly, seem to be finally listening. The pendulum has shifted direction. Gov. Kelly believes the Biden administration is no longer “following the science” and she is not afraid to say so.

Matt Dean ([email protected]) is a senior fellow for health care policy outreach at The Heartland Institute.  AnneMarie Schieber ([email protected]) is the managing editor of Health Care News.


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