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Morrisey applauds stay of OSHA mandate

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey applauded a decision Thursday by the U.S. Supreme Court to stay President Biden’s vaccine mandate for private sector employers with more than 100 employees.

In November, Morrisey and a coalition of six other states filed a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to stay the mandate, which the Biden Administration’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration had issued as an emergency temporary standard. The standard requires the vaccination or burdensome weekly testing of tens of millions of citizens.

After the Sixth Circuit declined to keep a stay of the mandate in place, the group, now joined by 20 additional states, asked the Supreme Court to stay the immediate effect of the mandate — which the court did.

“As we predicted all along, the U.S. Supreme Court has announced that it will stay the OSHA employer COVID-19 mandate,” Morrisey said. “This is a huge win for our Constitution, our freedoms, our republic and our way of life. I’m proud of our Office’s work and the work of the entire state coalition which helped make this happen.

“Your freedom matters. That’s why my Office will continue to fight against all of these unlawful mandates.”

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CHARLESTON — Morrisey and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich led a group of 16 states in urging the U.S. Department of State to take a tougher approach to stemming the influx of deadly fentanyl into their states and the nation as a whole.

In their Thursday letter, sent to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the attorneys general outlined their concerns about the production and distribution of fentanyl. The attorneys general are asking Secretary Blinken and his department to take a tougher stance on stopping the influx of deadly fentanyl from China and Mexico.

“Chinese chemical manufacturers are now making and sending the raw ingredients to make fentanyl to Mexican drug cartels, which are in turn making and trafficking fentanyl at an industrial scale,” Attorney General Morrisey wrote. “But in the face of this evolving and significant problem, the federal government has seemed content to stand by. We therefore write to insist on a fulsome and urgent response to this escalating plague killing our people every day.”

Historically, fentanyl was made in China and shipped directly to the United States. Following pressure from the federal government China began taking action against illicit fentanyl manufacturing within its borders in 2019.

However, Chinese labs ended up diverting precursor chemicals for fentanyl manufacturing to other countries, including Mexico.

Fentanyl has been smuggled into the United States from Mexico in alarming quantities. According to the U.S. Department of State, seizures of fentanyl directly shipped from China to the United States shrunk dramatically from over 128 kilograms seized in 2017 to less than half a kilogram in 2020.

Today, most fentanyl available in the United States has been trafficked from Mexico across the U.S. Southwest border. Seizures of fentanyl at the border increased from approximately 1,187 kilograms in 2019 to approximately 2,939 kilograms in 2020.

The states that signed onto the letter to Secretary Blinken have particular interest in stopping the flow of deadly fentanyl into their states, where overdoses have skyrocketed.

For example, in 2020, nearly 1,000 West Virginians were killed by fentanyl, accounting for three out of every four drug deaths in the State. According to the 2021 Overdose Trends report by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, fentanyl deaths nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020 in West Virginia.

Consistent with the national trends, almost 100% of the increase in drug overdose deaths in West Virginia in 2020 trace back to fentanyl.

West Virginia and Arizona co-led the letter, signed by attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas.

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