Vaccines, unemployment benefits, and public debt discussed in legislative committees

The Representative from Pollock introduced his Employee Medical Information Protection Act to the House Health and Welfare Committee Tuesday morning.
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 11:45 PM MST
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BOISE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —On Tuesday at the Idaho State Capitol, vaccine, unemployment benefits, and public debt legislation were discussed in committee meetings with Idaho lawmakers.

Republican lawmaker Charlie Shepherd is seeking to prohibit employers from mandating their employees get certain vaccines, while protecting workers’ bodily autonomy.

The Representative from Pollock introduced his Employee Medical Information Protection Act to the House Health and Welfare Committee Tuesday morning.

He told committee members many of his “constituents” are concerned that employers were allowed to mandate their employees get vaccinated for COVID, when the vaccine was not yet FDA approved.

The Republican lawmaker said his proposed legislation is not an “anti-vaccine bill”, and the intent of the proposed bill to stop any discrimination in the workplace based on vaccination status of an employee as it pertains to the Coronavirus or other emergency authorized vaccine.

The legislation introduced states in part, “It is unlawful for an employer” to refuse to hire or to discharge any individual because the individual refuses to be vaccinated for a coronavirus, or receive any vaccine made available under an emergency use authorization.

The employee also does not have to disclose to the employer whether the individual is vaccinated for a coronavirus, or has received a vaccination made available under an emergency use authorization.

The proposed legislation would not impact vaccines that are FDA approved , but would extend to COVD vaccines that are FDA approved. Shepherd said there is a stigma attached to them, as many employees received them when the vaccines were under emergency use authorization.

“The intent of this is to strictly protect employees in the future from any vaccine that has not gone through years of long testing that normal vaccines go through before they are given to the general public,” Shepherd said.

Additionally, he said his draft legislation would not extend to federal workers or health workers due to a Supreme Court ruling.

His proposed bill passed through the committee, and was approved for printing.

Also at the Idaho State Capitol on Tuesday, an Idaho State House Representative introduced legislation to prevent excessive public indebtedness in local government, without a vote of the people first.

Rep. Bruce Skaug presented legislation in the House Local Government Committee that seeks to amend the maximum duration of city leases for land and buildings.

“Any lease agreement beyond five years would require a public election approval by a simple majority of voters”, said Skaug.

The Republican lawmaker from Nampa passed similar legislation last year into law relating to county leases for courthouses or jails.

“This legislation amends the maximum duration of county leases for courthouses or jails from thirty (30) years to five (5) years. Any lease agreement beyond (5) would require public election approval by a simple majority of voters. It prevents excessive public indebtedness without a vote of the people or other lawful means. In addition to altering the duration of county leases, this bill also provides for technical corrections to 31-1001, Idaho Code. Some of the language, being corrected, pre-dates Idaho statehood and is from the Idaho Territory Codes.”

H0575 STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

“At that time they could do unlimited leases as far as an amount of money without a vote of the people, and that caused a lot consternation across the state, when voters would be angry at their county leaders for putting them into debt when they dodn;t have a say without a vote for those big bills,” Skaug said.

Skaug’s bill also passed through committee Tuesday. The Republican lawmaker has been busy so far this legislative session, as he has had numerous bills pass through committee this session. One of them is to withhold funds from cities that do not enforce Idaho’s criminal abortion statutes.

The Idaho Department of Labor was also introducing legislation Tuesday afternoon.

At the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee, Jani Revier, the Director for the Idaho Department of Labor, presented legislation for a statute change to the Employment Security Law. The change would extend unemployment insurance benefits to people who must leave their jobs due to domestic violence abuse or due to a military spouse being transferred.

The director said the fiscal impact to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund would be an estimated $200,000 for the first year, and slightly more the following years due to inflation.

One committee member respectfully asked Revier why someone would have to leave a job due to domestic violence abuse.

“Both the victim and the accused work in the same location. It could be an instance where they may work for the spouse. I think there is a variety of different instances where it may come into play,” Revier said.

The proposed legislation passed through committee and was approved for printing.