Vaccines mandate bill attempts to reconvene Idaho legislature

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – A panel of lawmakers on Monday recommended legislation that could lead to the reconvocation of the legislature if the bill to thwart President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates receives sufficient support.

The Federalism Committee, which includes both Senators and Representatives, forwarded the bill for consideration to the entire Legislature for consideration that would make it a criminal offense for state or city employees. to help implement Biden’s COVID-19 requirements.

“As a legislature, we can’t stop President Biden from issuing executive orders, but what we can do is say, ‘We’re not going to help you implement them,’” the President said. Republican Senator Steve Vick. “So that is the objective of this bill.”

If the proposed legislation ultimately becomes law, Vick said, state or city employees who violate it would face a fine or jail time. The employees would be responsible for the fine, not the city or the state government entity, he said.

“While this is more of a dragging approach, it may be one of the best approaches we can provide to not help them,” Republican Senator Carl Crabtree said.

Many Republican lawmakers in Idaho are angry with the vaccine requirements announced by Biden last month, and some want the Idaho House and Senate to meet before the regular session scheduled for January to immediately prevent such terms.

But so far lawmakers have been unable to rally around a specific bill that House and Senate leaders say is needed to remind lawmakers in Boise. The action of the Federalism Committee, which deals with questions of state sovereignty, aims to provide this legislation.

However, the committee has limited power and cannot formally present or hold a public hearing on the bill to advance it for votes throughout the House and Senate. This would have to go through what is called a standing committee, which would force the Legislative Assembly to meet again.

For that to happen would require the agreement of Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke and Republican Senate Speaker Pro Tem Chuck Winder. Both have been evasive over the summer about reconvening the Legislature. Bedke said widely supported legislation could lead to recalling all 105 lawmakers in Boise.

Normally, only Republican Governor Brad Little could recall lawmakers. But the House never fully adjourned in May, and House and Senate leaders say that means they don’t need Little to meet again. Little said he didn’t need to call a special session because the House never officially adjourned.

The broad vaccination mandates proposed by Biden affect 100 million Americans, requiring employers of more than 100 workers to require employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly for the virus.

Workers in healthcare facilities who receive federal Medicare or Medicaid will need to be fully immunized, affecting more than 17 million healthcare workers, the White House said.

Employees of the executive and contractors who do business with the federal government should also be vaccinated without the possibility of being tested. This covers several million additional workers.

The obligation for large companies to require vaccinations or weekly tests for employees will be enacted by an upcoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule that provides for penalties of $ 14,000 per violation.

However, this rule has not yet been announced. A lawsuit is expected, including from Idaho, when it goes public.

The federalism committee meeting included four other bills, including one from Republican Rep. Tammy Nichols which ran into problems when lawmakers questioned whether medical confidentiality provisions would prevent employers from using drug tests. drugs to screen employees.

Democratic Senator David Nelson had reservations about all the bills and voted against sending any of them.

“We are at a balance of rights,” he said. “People want the right, however loosely defined, not to have to be vaccinated. But others want the right to a safe workplace or a safe place to receive medical treatment. “

Last month, more than a dozen far-right lawmakers gathered at the Statehouse in an unsuccessful attempt to muster a 36-member quorum in the House to force the legislature to resume a session, with at least seven bills presented at the time.

In total, a dozen pieces of legislation aimed at ending Biden’s vaccine requirements as well as preventing private companies from requiring vaccines have now been introduced.

If Bedke and Winder reminded lawmakers in Boise, all of these bills could be heard because, unlike a special session called by Little, the legislation to be discussed would not be restricted.

Crabtree, the Republican senator, noted this during the meeting and while discussing the legislation being considered by the committee.

The bill “and the ideas in it will be considered whether we say it or not, and they should be in my opinion,” he said.

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