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Legal battle over vaccine mandates is headed back to district court

The Montana Supreme Court Wednesday sent a legal challenge to a law banning vaccine mandates back to a lower court on a technicality. The decision is part of an ongoing legal battle over House Bill 702, which bans workplace vaccine requirements and discrimination based on vaccination status.

A federal district court judge had blocked a portion of the law banning vaccine requirements for workers in healthcare facilities in March. The state Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday is in response to a suit from a private law firm.

The state high court said the Richland County District Court must review whether the bill’s title violates the state Constitution. Bill titles must contain one, clearly expressed subject under Montana law.

The law is also facing a challenge arguing the state cannot enforce the ban on vaccine mandates within tribal nations.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.