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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

Montana Attorney General pushes back on Biden’s proposed vaccine rule

COVID vaccine record card

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen wants to block the Biden Administration's proposed employer vaccine and testing mandate before it goes into effect. Montana is one of only a few states to explicitly ban such mandates.

Knudsen released guidance Thursday telling employers that Biden’s mandate, which is being crafted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is not yet in effect.

His guidance followed the Biden Administration’s announcement yesterday that draft language for the vaccine rule is moving forward, but is not finalized. The rule would require employers with 100 or more employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccines or regular testing.

Roger Jensen, a professor of law and ethics in occupational safety and health at Montana Tech, says there are legal questions about the mandate in Montana, but those in his field generally agree the rule is necessary.

“I’m just speaking from the safety and health point of view that we’ve got to get aggressive and do this.” 

Knudsen says he’ll ask a judge to enjoin the rule before it goes into effect, calling it a “federal overreach.”

The attorney general is currently defending the state in two lawsuits challenging Montana’s law that bans employers from requiring vaccines. It’ll be up to the courts to decide if the federal rule trumps the state law, or vice versa.

Shaylee began covering state government and politics for Montana Public Radio in August 2020. Originally from Belgrade, Montana, she graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program and previously worked as a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and UM’s Legislative News Service. Please share tips, questions and concerns by emailing