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Idaho lawmaker introduces bill to prevent employers from 'vaccine discrimination'

Any company that contracts with the state of Idaho or any local government would be forbidden from discriminating against those who choose not to get vaccines.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho lawmakers debated a bill from Rep. Priscilla Giddings (R-White Bird) on Tuesday morning. Her bill would not force certain workers to adhere to vaccine requirements, the COVID-19 vaccine or any other.

"We can't afford to have people discriminated against because of their vaccination status," Giddings said on the House floor.

Any company that contracts with the state of Idaho or any local government would be forbidden from discriminating against those who choose not to get vaccines. This means companies cannot reassign employees or change their job duties because of their vaccine status.

This bill only applies to workers contracted by state or local governments, as Giddings does not want taxpayer money to be used to enforce 100% vaccine compliance.

Some lawmakers, however, took issue with not having fully-vaccinated workers in certain fields.

"I agree that people shouldn't be forced to receive a vaccine that they don't want to receive," Rep. Lauren Necochea (D-Boise) said. "This bill may be fine for 99% of the jobs out there, but there are a certain small number of jobs where a person's vaccine status can be life or death for the people they're helping." 

Giddings argued everyone wants safety but "these tactics" offer a false sense of security "while annihilating our personal liberty."

"Let our people work and let our people pursue happiness," she said. "Where there are risks, I really believe there needs to be choice." 

In Idaho, residents can claim a medical or religious exemption for vaccines when enrolling children in school. 

The bill has already been opposed by the Idaho Medical Association, the Idaho Hospital Association and the Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities.

The bill passed the House 49-21 and is now moving to the Senate.

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