BOISE, Idaho —
This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press.
Gov. Brad Little on Monday afternoon vetoed SB 1381, the "Coronavirus Pause Act," which sought to impose a one-year ban on businesses, venues or employers in Idaho requiring coronavirus vaccines.
"I am vetoing this legislation because I am a lifelong advocate of limited government, and SB 1381 significantly expands government overreach into the private sector," the governor wrote in his veto message.
Lawmakers are set to reconvene on Thursday, when they'll consider the governor's action. The bill passed the House on March 18 on a 45-23 vote, which falls short of the two-thirds margin required to override a veto; it passed the Senate March 15 on a 24-11 vote, which is just over two-thirds.
The only exceptions allowed in the bill are for health care workers subject to federal law, existing contractual arrangements, and employees who are required to travel out of state or enter specific work areas where vaccines are required. Violations would be misdemeanors punishable by $1,000 fines.
Numerous bills have been introduced by GOP lawmakers this year to outlaw vaccine mandates from private businesses. Among them: The House earlier passed HB 581, sponsored by Rep. Charlie Shepherd, R-Pollock, to make it a crime for any employer, even of just a single in-home caregiver, to inquire about an employee’s vaccine status.
Shepherd supported the Coronavirus Pause Act, which was proposed by Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder, R-Boise, calling it a "compromise."
Winder, during the Senate debate on the bill, said he tried to “thread the needle” between the rights of employees and employers.
“This is not a change in long-term policy," he said. "This is just a one-year pause.”
However, several large Idaho businesses opposed the bill.
In his veto message, Little wrote, "I have been consistent in stating my belief that businesses should be left to make decisions about the management of their operations and employees with limited interference from government. For the same reason, I sued to stop President Joe Biden's vaccine mandates three times."
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