Idaho legislature passes bill seeking to prevent unvaccinated from discrimination

Idaho legislature passes bill seeking to prevent unvaccinated from discrimination

Last week, the Idaho state Legislature passed a bill that would prevent businesses from requiring a coronavirus vaccination in order to be employed or to receive a service, as the bill also would prevent unvaccinated people from being “treated differently or discriminated against.”

The legislation has been supported by Republican legislators and is known as the Coronavirus Pause Act.

The bill hit Gov. Brad Little’s desk this week, and Little, who is a fellow Republican, has not indicated whether he plans to veto or sign it. Marissa Morrison Hyer, a spokesperson for Little, said in a statement released on Saturday that the governor “does not comment on pending litigation.”

The bill notes that the choice to be vaccinated is “a very personal and individual decision” and is one that should not be required by public or private entities.

While health officials have continually held that the vaccines that have so far been approved in the United States are safe for use and are effective at preventing serious illness and death, some believe their risk of serious illness is low enough to forego being vaccinated.

The bill’s critics have said that the measure will harm businesses more, especially those that have been struggling as a result of the pandemic. “To criminalize businesses is a really horrific thing to do,” said state Sen. Melissa Wintrow, a Democrat who disagrees with the bill.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican State Sen. Chuck Winder, said on the Senate floor last week that the legislation would “thread the needle on protecting the rights of the employee while trying to safeguard the rights of the employer.”

When it came to a vote, the bill passed mostly along party lines. Under the measure, businesses in violation would be penalized with a misdemeanor or be fined up to $1,000.

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