Senate State Affairs Committee Holds Three COVID-19 Vaccine Bills

BOISE, Idaho – The Senate Committee on State Affairs holds the three bills presented Wednesday morning in committee, which means they will not go through the Senate just yet.

State Affairs considered three bills Wednesday morning that were passed by the Idaho House of Representatives on Tuesday. The question that dominated the committee’s discussions was whether new legislation was really needed.

Related: 2021 Legislative Session Ends

“Help me understand why this bill does more than what we are already involved in,” Deputy Senate Majority Leader Abby Lee (R) Fruitland told Rep. Ron Mendive (R) Coeur d ‘Alene when he introduced Bill 419.

Representative Mendive said: “It reassures people that we are standing up for the constitution.”

HB 419 would create a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding COVID-19 vaccination status.

The other two bills presented to the committee were Bill 414, which would prohibit employers from questioning an employee’s religious exemption from something like a vaccination warrant, and Bill 417, which would cover injuries caused by vaccines in the context of workers’ compensation.

The reason some committee members questioned whether new legislation was needed was because of the Health Freedom Act, which was enacted in 2010.

“I just want to make sure the citizens of Idaho understand that if an employer still breaks this law, the recourse does not lie with the legislature. That employee still has to go through the court system,” Lee said.

Others who participated in public testimony, including Rep. Brent Krane (R) Nampa, said many people could not afford to sue their employer.

“There is a legal remedy, but I would like to stress the fact that these people do not have the financial resources to oppose a business,” he said.

Other public testimony included about 35 business and healthcare lobbyists asking the committee not to move the bills forward and other members of the public primarily asking the committee to support the bills.

Norman D. Briggs