Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin is trying to convince legislative leaders to reconvene to consider legislation barring private employers from requiring workers to be vaccinated to stay employed. A prominent business group is opposing her.
Thursday at the Capitol in Boise, McGeachin gathered supporters wearing blue “Stop the Mandate” t-shirts for a press conference.
“No one should be forced to choose between keeping their job and taking a vaccine authorized for emergency use when doing so violates their conscience. This decision is a personal choice. It is not the government’s business," she said.
McGeachin is responding to recent announcements by several Idaho health care providers that they will require their employees to be vaccinated for Covid. She has formally asked House Speaker Scott Bedke to call lawmakers back to Boise to pass legislation prohibiting that. She has the support of Republican Rep. Tammy Nichols.
“The job of the government is to protect and uphold the rights of the people and that is what we need to do at this time. So, myself and many of my fellow legislators would like us to be called back into session to be able to address these concerns and to be able to protect the Idahoans that have worked so hard for us," she said.
Bedke says businesses should be allowed to make those decisions for themselves and that he has no plans to call lawmakers back this year.
He has the support of one of the state’s largest business groups, the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. This week it released a letter, pushing back on the notion that government should this week saying it supports Bedke’s position.
“Many of our members have been mandating vaccines for decades and this is no different. We don’t believe that the legislature has a role to play at this time. The regulatory framework works just fine as it is and we don’t need new regulation on business to deal with this issue," said IACI President Alex LaBeau.
LaBeau says requiring employees to be vaccinated does not violate their rights because people are free to look for jobs at companies that don’t have vaccine mandates.