BOISE, Idaho — Vaccinated and unvaccinated Idahoans across the state had mixed reactions to the recent announcement that three major medical providers will require their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine by September 2021.
Reactions also came from state lawmakers. Six Republican lawmakers from Nampa issued a joint statement on private businesses requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, stating they would support any action the Idaho legislature took to prevent this.
On Friday, Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin called on the legislature to reconvene in order to prevent private businesses and employers from making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory.
"No one should be forced to choose between keeping their job and undergoing an experimental medical procedure that violates their conscience," she said in a tweet.
McGeachin shared a copy of a letter she sent to Idaho Speaker of the House Rep. Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) in her tweet. Even as the current lieutenant governor, however, she does not have the authority to request that the legislature reconvene.
Despite the lieutenant governor labeling the vaccine as "experimental," Bedke stated that a vaccine with emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is anything but experimental.
"It's time for us to reason together," he said. "This is an interesting societal question and we should work our way through it."
Bedke said the decision of private businesses to require their employees to be vaccinated is a larger government problem that cannot be solved with more government.
"I appreciate her opinion," he continued. "I appreciate all the opinions I'm getting and believe me, I'm getting them. This is a more government solution to a serious problem. Call me an old-school Republican, but I think that the government that governs best is the government that governs least."
While he does not currently have plans to call the legislature to reconvene, Bedke said there would have to be a clear consensus in both the House and Senate for that to change.
"We don't want to go in and waste people's time, and taxpayers' money where nothing was accomplished, frankly," he said. "I can almost guarantee we won't call anybody back in the next two weeks."
KTVB reached out to Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder (R-Boise) to find out what the general consensus on reconvening is in the Senate but did not hear back by the time this story was published.
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