Idaho’s House Business Committee on Tuesday introduced a bill that would prohibit employers from requiring workers to be vaccinated or asking an employee or potential employee about their vaccination status.
The bill’s sponsor, Charlie Shepherd (R-Pollock), says the legislation protects individual freedoms.
“If protecting an individual is to make a class, it is problematic in itself. As a government, I thought our priority was to protect the individual,” Shepherd said, responding to a question from committee member Brooke Green (D-Boise).
House Bill 581, dubbed the ‘Employee Medical Information Protection Act,’ prohibits discrimination against employees for not having been vaccinated against ‘coronavirus’ or for taking any available vaccine under an emergency use authorization, or for refusing to disclose their vaccination status. It would punish companies that fail to comply with a misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $1,000.
Republicans on the committee, including Brent Crane (R-Nampa), praised the bill but said it didn’t go far enough.
“There are more rights that I would like to extend if possible [but] I realize the wisdom of what you’re trying to do to move the ball upfield,” Crane told Shepherd.
The bill excludes health care workers and federal employees living in Idaho because a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allows health care companies to require vaccinations. State law does not have jurisdiction over federal workers.
“If you find somewhere in this bill where it covers more than I wanted, and we get away with it, that’s fine,” Shepherd told the committee.
Rep. Steve Berch (D-Boise) also pointed to the bill’s ban on requiring future vaccines.
“If we pass a law that allows anyone to do whatever they want and spread a disease that could have a 20% death rate because it is their individual freedom to do so without any responsibility for who they affect; it’s not good law, it’s not good public policy, and it’s not freedom for the person who is infected and may die,” Berch said.
Shepherd said he would rather see businesses close than be able to stay open by requiring a vaccine.
“I would rather that happen and give someone like me time to come back here and rewrite the law that protects the individual to the best of their abilities than trample on our constitutional rights,” he said. .
The bill advanced on a party line vote to the House floor with a “do-pass” recommendation. A separate bill prohibiting government entities from requiring proof of vaccination or testing for any communicable disease in order to receive public services is expected to be considered by the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday.