Idaho Senate approves temporary ban on vaccine mandates
Companies in Idaho could be barred from requiring their workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine in most circumstances.
Under the bill passed by Senate Republicans Tuesday, private businesses could only implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for workers who travel out of state to places that have their own vaccine regulations. Hospitals and federal contractors would also be exempt.
Senate Pro Tem Chuck Winder (R-Boise), who sponsors the bill, said crafting the proposal was a balancing act.
“We tried to recognize that there are legitimate business interests that need to be protected, but there are also legitimate personal interests that need to be protected,” Winder said.
The legislation would also ban event organizers from refusing to let in unvaccinated guests.
Cities, counties and state government offices couldn’t withhold benefits, services, licenses, permits or force those riding public transportation to have received a COVID-19 vaccine, either.
But opponents point out there are no similar discrimination protections for those who are vaccinated.
“I think we’ve all seen in the news the signs that some proprietors put on their door that say, ‘If you’re vaccinated, you’re not welcome here,’ or ‘you may not enter,’” said Sen. Grant Burgoyne (D-Boise).
“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” Burgoyne said.
Sen. Jim Guthrie (R-McCammon) was one of the few Republicans who voted against the bill. Guthrie said businesses shouldn’t have to jump over another government hurdle.
“Would a business really limit their options for employees by imposing a mandate unless it was critical to their business model and their survival?” he asked.
A lobbyist for Micron requested the implementation date be moved to May if it were to be signed into law, but the semi-conductor giant didn’t give the proposal its approval.
Commercial real estate developer Ball Ventures vocally opposed it, couching it as further government overreach.
A similar bill passed by the Idaho House is more stringent than the Senate’s version. It has yet to receive a hearing in a Senate committee.
The proposal approved by the Senate Tuesday now goes to the House for consideration. If it’s passed there and signed into law, the legislation would only be in effect for one year.
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