State Republican explains his plan to fight Biden’s vaccine mandate

"At the grassroots level there's a ton of support," Mortensen told Alpha News.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on COVID-19 vaccinations in June. (White House/Flickr)

If Minnesota Republicans rally behind state Rep. Erik Mortensen’s new amendment, they could exempt Minnesotans from federal vaccine mandates, he told Alpha News during a recent interview.

President Joe Biden unveiled a new vaccine mandate last week that requires businesses with over 100 employees to make their workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing, lest the employer face substantial recurring fines. This measure is expected to impact the vast majority of the U.S. workforce. Biden is also slated to unveil further restrictions before the UN General Assembly convenes this week, according to Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.

Fortunately for those who don’t want to take the COVID vaccine, Minnesota Republicans could seek to make federal vaccine rules unenforceable at the state level. However, most state Republican lawmakers have not expressed any interest in supporting such action, Mortensen said.

He has drafted legislation that would prohibit employers from requiring vaccination, ban the use of government-issued “vaccine passports, vaccine passes, and vaccine credentials,” and prevent businesses from requesting proof of vaccination from their patrons. This rule comes in the form of an amendment to a high-profile spending bill that is aimed at providing $250 million to so-called frontline workers that is set to be discussed during an upcoming special session.

“At the grassroots level there’s a ton of support,” Mortensen told Alpha News viewers during a recent livestream. Where support is lacking is in St. Paul, he said. So far, very few Republican legislators have pledged to support Mortensen’s proposal.

“There have not been a lot of Republican legislators who signed the pledge indicating that they would support it [the amendment],” Mortensen said. “Nobody cares about their oath of office anymore, all they care about is their agenda.”

Jake Duesenberg of Action 4 Liberty echoed this concern, adding that Republicans are unwilling to even attempt to represent their constituents’ desire for vaccine exemptions, citing pressure from Democrats.

When approached about Mortensen’s amendment, “they’ll say ‘well this will never pass in Minnesota because of the Democrats,'” Duesenberg reported. In his view though, “it’s not going to pass in Minnesota because of the Republicans right now,” since they apparently lack a plan.

“They don’t have a plan. We’ve had a plan,” the Action 4 Liberty president explained. “If I don’t have Republicans on board then we’re going to fail.”

“They’re too lazy, they’re too cowardly to take the action required,” Mortensen added, speaking on his fellow Republican lawmakers.

“A lot of people are unifying on this issue except for the politicians,” Duesenberg said. “We have over 100,000 people out through Minnesota [who support the cause] … all we need is every Republican [lawmaker] on board, so let’s unify.” If Republicans were to rally behind Mortensen’s amendment, only five Democrats would have to vote across the aisle in order for it to clear the House — and those swing Democrats may not be too difficult to find.

“This is not a partisan issue,” Mortensen said, referencing how some Democrats have already put in writing their opposition to vaccine mandates.

However, even with total support from Republicans and a handful of Democrats, Mortensen’s amendment is destined to fail if Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz senses that it might succeed and refuses to call a special session. While this would prevent the likely passage of some bipartisan legislation, Mortensen says it’s a distinct possibility.

The governor was expected to call a special session sometime this month but said he is “rethinking” that plan after Republicans threatened to remove Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm from her position.

“Now what we’re seeing is the governor starting to hint that [he may cancel it] with this pressure coming in on this issue,” he says. “Walz is starting to waffle as to whether or not he’s going to go forward with this special session so we have to demand that he goes forward with this special session.”

Should the amendment not succeed, Minnesotans would be at something of a “dead end,” according to Duesenberg. That’s why he’s encouraging Minnesotans to contact their legislators and ask them to sign a pledge in support of the amendment.

Some other Republicans such as Dr. Scott Jensen are also drafting legislation to address the issue. Jensen said last week that he is working on a “Health Freedom Sanctuary State” proposal that would include similar policies. However, Jensen, a candidate for governor, no longer holds elected office, so his proposal would have to be picked up by a current legislator, which state Rep. Mary Franson has expressed interest in doing.