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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As Missouri conservatives push for a special session to oppose the Biden administration’s proposed vaccine mandates, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe is voicing his own opposition to the president’s plan.

President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled plans for large companies to require workers to be either vaccinated against coronavirus or submit weekly negative test results, an order expected to cover around 80 million people. In addition, all federal employees and contractors doing business with the federal government will need to be vaccinated, forgoing the testing option.

Kehoe, a business owner, decried the proposal as an “aggressive and unprecedented decree” and vowed to work with fellow elected officials, congressional delegates, and businesses to battle the

“This type of autocratic directive, bypassing the Congress and implemented by unelected bureaucrats, is antithetical to traditional American values and seeks to replace the men and women who own and operate businesses, and therefore know best what their business should or should not require, with the federal government,” Kehoe said in a statement.

“Over the course of more than 35 years in business, I am all too familiar with having to implement the government’s ‘helpful’ ideas, devised by those who have never worried about making payroll or signed a check, but yesterday’s decree beats all in terms of intrusion and overreach,” he continued.

Sen. Bill Eigel, one of the Conservative Caucus members who called on Gov. Mike Parson to summon lawmakers for a special session on the issue a month ahead of the announcement, questioned whether Kehoe’s “pretty words” were enough of a condemnation of the move.

Conservatives in both chambers upped the pressure on Parson to make the call for lawmakers to consider the issue alongside next week’s veto session: Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden said the legislature “should take action,” while GOP Reps. Tony Lovasco and Ben Baker sent Parson their own requests. Rep. Nick Schroer is circulating a petition.

House leadership also scheduled a Judiciary Committee hearing for next week to take public testimony on the issue.

Parson quickly said the announcement was “unwelcome” in Missouri Thursday evening, and Attorney General Eric Schmitt — another frequent opponent to the Biden administration — declared the mandate “will not stand in Missouri.”

Parson signed legislation earlier this year curtailing local governments’ ability to enact sweeping health orders — a response to sweeping shutdowns and mask mandates enacted throughout the pandemic in certain cities and counties.

Missouri has also gone toe-to-toe with the federal government with a controversial gun law that declares federal laws that could restrict gun ownership as “invalid” in the state of Missouri.

In Missouri, 60 people have died in the past seven days from COVID-19 with more than 10,150 positive cases identified during the last week. At least 54 percent of Missourians who meet the age requirement for the vaccine are fully inoculated. Nearly 78 percent of Missourians who are over the age of 65 are fully vaccinated, according to data from the state.

Cameron Gerber studied journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, he earned an associate’s degree from State Fair Community College. Cameron is a native of Eldon, Missouri.

Contact Cameron at cameron@themissouritimes.com.

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