By Brandon Moseley

Businessman and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim James issued a call Monday for Alabama Governor Ivey to expand this week’s special session to include protections against vaccine mandates.

In response to growing demands from Alabamians who are reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine as ordered by President Joe Biden (D) and as ordered by many Alabama employers, the Governor issued an executive order stating her opposition to the mandates and joining Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) in vowing to fight the mandates in court. Tuesday morning, James renewed his call.

"Yesterday morning, I called on Governor Ivey to expand the call of this week’s special session to include adopting legislation to protect Alabamians from vaccine mandates,” James said. “The Governor responded by issuing an Executive Order to direct state government entities to push back on the federal mandate.

“However, the Executive Order reads more like a ‘resolution’ which expresses an ‘opinion or will’ more than a force of law. The teeth of this Executive Order wouldn't bite through a stick of butter as evidenced by Auburn University’s disrespectful response today. We need a legislative act of law passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor against any employer mandate, both public and private.”

State Rep. Ritchie Whorton (R-Scottsboro) has introduced HB31, the Alabama Health Freedom Act. Advocates for Alabamians who face pending terminations are urging the legislature to take up HB31 during the special session that begins on Thursday. Ivey did not include HB31 or any legislation to deal with mask mandates in her call for the session; instead she asked the legislature to address Constitutionally mandated redistricting and appropriation of American Rescue Act moneys.

“Our attorney general is preparing for litigation with the Biden administration, but we need to pit codified state law against Biden's executive order,” James said. “The Alabama legislature has signaled it is poised to pass strong anti-mandate legislation if the governor will simply expand the agenda for the special session. Gov. Ivey must do this.”

President Biden has ordered all member of the armed forces, employees of any defense contractors, employees of the federal government, employees of non-defense federal contractors, and employees of any healthcare provider who receives Medicaid or Medicare reimbursement to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or submit to rigorous weekly testing. The President has ordered the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to prepare a new workplace safety regulation requiring that employers of over 100 people have all of their employees vaccinated for COVID-19 or face massive fines. Thousands of Alabamians have been notified by their employers, including the University of Alabama System and Auburn University, that they will be fired before Christmas if they do not submit to President Biden’s ordered COVID-19 vaccine mandates. A mass protest was held against the mandates and urging the legislature to take up HB31 on Thursday.

“Any government that would force its citizens to take a vaccine against their will and under the threat of being fired and pushing them into bankruptcy or poverty is vile,” James added. “It is contrary to every basic constitutional principle and liberty that undergirds the foundation of this nation.

“Over the last year, Washington’s progressive leaders have used the COVID crisis to expand federal power like never before.  The Biden Administration is now moving forward with a federal vaccine mandate on private citizens. This debate is no longer about vaccines but about the liberty of the people of Alabama. President Biden’s flawed policy is about to affect thousands of Alabamians. Our state leaders must act now.”

The vaccines mandates are the result of the executive orders of President Biden. Congress has not considered legislation to mandate the vaccine, or addressed Biden's actions regarding vaccines and COVID. 

Earlier this year, 28% of employed Americans said they wouldn't get a COVID vaccine even if it cost them their job, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Over 80 million Americans are estimated to be affected by the new executive order and OSHA rule, including tens of thousands of Alabamians.

Tim James is a businessman in Greenville and the son of two-time Alabama Governor Fob James (1979-1983 & 1995-1999). Tim James ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 2002 and 2010, failing to win the Republican nomination for governor both times. James is often discussed as a possible 2022 Republican primary challenger to Gov Ivey.

No incumbent Governor in Alabama has lost their party’s nomination since Gov. Albert Brewer lost the Democratic primary to former Gov. George C. Wallace in 1974.