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Lawmakers ask Idaho legislature to reconvene following mandatory vaccine for health systems

Idaho Statehouse House chambers
Posted at 4:47 PM, Jul 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 09:40:06-04

BOISE, Idaho — Some Idaho lawmakers are voicing their hesitations about the mandatory vaccines and calling on the Idaho Legislature to reconvene and take up the matter.

Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin posted her request to social media Friday asking Speaker of the House Scott Bedke to call lawmakers back into session following the announcements of the health systems requiring COVID-19 vaccinations.

During the 2021 session, Gov. Brad Little signed an executive order which prevents state agencies from recuring vaccines - but not private companies.

Speaker of the House Scott Bedke says while the Idaho Legislature could go back into session it's not probable at this time as there needs to be plenty of phone calls and research done before anything happens to make sure things are handled correctly.

Related: Treasure Valley health care systems requiring employees to get COVID-19 vaccine

“I kind of seeing us going slow here making sure that if we do, it is properly done. Obviously, the House cannot do anything unilaterally. There's going to have to be a receptive Senate and a receptive governor and all of that is homework that has not been done at this point.” Bedke said. “Yes, it's a possibility, but I'll have to stop there as to probability."

Idaho is a "work at will" state meaning the government does not get involved in the relationship between the employers and the employees. According to the Idaho Department of Labor's website, "If there is an employer policy, employment contract or union agreement, the employment relationship may be subject to the terms and conditions of that policy, contract or agreement."

Bedke added he believes the legislature wants to keep it that way regarding the involvement.

"It's a republican-dominated state and a republican-dominated legislature and so we have been all about reducing regulation and government interference," Bedke said. "Health care workers have required vaccinations for a long time. So this is not something new."

With new emerging cases of the Delta variant and other COVID-19 strains, St. Luke’s officials felt now was the right time to add the COVID-19 as a required vaccine for employees.

“This is not new to us as it relates to vaccines. It’s not new to health care to ensure that our health care workers are healthy whether it's a tuberculous screening, flu vaccines. COVID is just going to be another vaccine that is going to be important so we can provide safety for each other and safety for those we serve," St. Luke's President and CEO Chris Roth said.

While St. Luke’s officials wouldn’t comment directly on the possibility of lawmakers going back into session, Roth stated “they are going to take their own actions moving forward and continue to be engaged with local representatives.”