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Senate State Affairs Committee holds three COVID-19 vaccine bills

Senate State Affairs
Posted at 2:26 PM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 11:11:52-05

BOISE, Idaho — The Senate State Affairs Committee is holding all three bills presented Wednesday morning in committee, meaning they won't move forward to the Senate floor right now.

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

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"Help me understand why this bill does more than what we are already embroiled in," Senate Assistant Majority Leader, Abby Lee (R) Fruitland told Rep. Ron Mendive (R) Coeur d'Alene when he presented House Bill 419.

Rep. Mendive said, "It gives people comfort that we are standing up for the constitution."

HB 419 would create a "don't ask, don't tell" policy concerning COVID-19 vaccination status.

The other two bills presented to the committee were House Bill 414, which would prohibit employers from questioning an employee's religious exemption to something like a vaccine mandate, and House Bill 417, which would cover vaccine injuries under workers' compensation.

The reason some committee members questioned whether new legislation was necessary was because of the Health Freedom Act, which was passed into law in 2010.

"I just want to make sure that the citizens of Idaho understand, that if an employer still violates this law, the remedy is not with the Legislature. That employee still has to go through the court system," Lee said.

Others who participate in public testimony, including Rep. Brent Krane (R) Nampa, said many people can't afford to sue their employer.

"There is a legal remedy however I would point out the fact that these individuals don't have the financial resources to go up against a corporation," he said.

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