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State Sen. Nass again pushes lawsuit over UW System COVID-19 policies

The UW System will comply with President Joe Biden’s federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employers with more than 100 workers.
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 5:18 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2021 at 7:06 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Wisconsin state senator is asking two of the state’s top lawmakers Wednesday to follow through on suing the University of Wisconsin System as the fight over COVID-19 protocols continues.

The UW System says it will comply with an executive order issued by President Biden that requires federal contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Senator Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) stated that the UW System announced it would be using President Joe Biden’s federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate as a way to advance a mandate in the system.

“The actions of the UW System on Covid-19 are not about the science or public health,” Nass said. “Rather, the UW System leadership has now aligned itself with the Biden Administration’s Covid-19 politics.”

In a statement from former Republican Wisconsin governor and current UW System President Tommy Thompson, he said the university has to follow Biden’s executive order to receive federal funds.

“We cannot afford to jeopardize millions of dollars in federal contracts, which are integral to our academic and research missions,” said Thompson. “Therefore, we intend to be in compliance with the federal executive order on vaccine mandates.”

Biden’s sweeping rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers are required to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. The roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated.

Biden is also requiring vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government — with no option to test out. That covers several million more workers.

It is not clear whether the UW System has interpreted the broadly-written order to be a campus-wide employee mandate and whether it would apply to all campuses.

Nass formally sent a letter to Senate Maj. Leader Devin LeMahieu and Speaker Robin Vos on Sept. 7, asking them to sue UW System to determine if university administrators need legislative approval to enact any COVID-19 restrictions.

UW System has rejected the committee’s assertion of power, with interim president Tommy Thompson going so far as to tell lawmakers in August to “get out of my way.”

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