Idaho business lobby opposes possible special session; says vaccines have always been a requirement

Posted at 4:50 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 19:28:44-04

Some Idaho lawmakers are against mandating vaccines and are optimistic of a special session in the near future, but an Idaho association representing businesses says the law already put in place with the current exemptions is enough.

Requiring certain vaccinations isn’t new as there is already a requirement for most health care workers, education staff and the military. The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry says mandated vaccines are hardly a new requirement and that a business shouldn’t be forced to keep an employee who doesn’t follow the standard.

Alex LaBeau
President of IACI, Alex LaBeau.

“This is not something new and it's not something really that the legislature needs to take on at this point from our perspective because the laws they have already wisely created, already have a number of exemptions in place,” Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry President Alex LaBeau said.

The two main exemptions are a religious objection or a health condition that would make the vaccine hazardous to your health. If someone is harmed by taking any vaccine under a condition of employment - that would fall under worker’s compensation.

“The worker's compensation law works extremely well by giving employees an opportunity to receive compensation quickly with a very low standard of proof compared with trying to go to court or something along those lines which some legislators have been contemplating,” LeBeau said.

While Rep. Brent Crane (R)-Nampa feels Idahoans should have the right to choose to forgo a vaccine without losing their job, he worried the requirement might cause a further shortage of health care workers.

“We are having a labor crisis right now. There's also a nursing shortage right now and is that the kind of message that you want to send to your nursing staff?” Crane said. “That, you know what, ‘we don’t value you and we don’t respect your ability to make an individual medical decision as a medical professional.’ I don’t think any employers in the state of Idaho should put that type of a mandate on their employees.”

Brent Crane

“This has been going for decades. Employers have been mandating vaccines for the condition of employment. They mandate masks, they mandate ventilation equipment, they mandate any number of different things as a condition of employment for either the safety of employees or the safety of the customers, patient's clients, whatever it might be.”

Crane says before going into a special session there needs to be agreed upon language between the house, senate governor and even health professionals.

“The nurses and doctors should be dealt in but so should those CEOs of the hospitals and we should have a good discussion around what is a policy that works the Idaho way to protect the employers but also address the concerns of those health care organizations,” Crane said.

Thursday morning, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin will hold a press briefing to speak out against the vaccine requirement put in place by the state's largest health care providers. The event will start at 9 a.m. in the Lincoln Auditorium.

The briefing comes less than a week after McGeachin called for the legislature to reconvene and work to stop the mandate made by those employers. Idaho News 6 will have a crew at the event and will share updates on-air and online.