Idaho Legislature approves joint statement against federal vaccine mandates

Measure consists of written disapproval to be delivered to Biden Administration

By: - November 16, 2021 12:48 pm

Senate Joint Memorial 105 passed on a voice vote, and if passed by the Idaho House, would consist of written documentation registering Idaho’s disapproval of Biden’s order from September. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

The Idaho Legislature has passed a joint memorial that will notify President Joe Biden and his administration that the Legislature strongly opposes vaccine mandates for federal workers and contractors, as well as vaccination and testing requirements for large businesses and health care businesses.

Senate Joint Memorial 105 passed on a voice vote in the Senate and in the House late in the afternoon on Tuesday. The measure consists of written documentation registering Idaho’s disapproval of Biden’s order from September. The order instructed the Department of Labor to issue a temporary emergency rule under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to mandate that employers either require vaccines or weekly COVID-19 testing, or fire employees who refuse to comply.

“This is a call to our delegation and to our president in the nation’s capital to take note and to take action,” said Sen. Kelly Anthon, R-Burley. “… It is a joint memorial against a violation of … the balance of powers that is the solid foundation of American government, where the executive authority in this instance has overreached not only into state matters, not only into private lives, but on a federal balance of powers level, it has overreached.”

Gov. Brad Little and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden have joined three lawsuits challenging the mandates with other states across the country. Legislators in the House have been considering many other bills that would change Idaho Code in various ways, such as banning vaccine requirements and prohibiting state and local government employees from enforcing federal vaccine mandates.

Opposition to the memorial during debate came from Sens. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, and David Nelson, D-Moscow. Nelson said COVID cases surpassed 300,000 in the state since the beginning of the pandemic, along with the deaths of more than 3,700 individuals, and the Legislature is focusing on the wrong problem.

“I totally get that we don’t like to be told what to do as Idahoans. I don’t like the federal or state government telling me what to do,” Nelson said. “But we have a situation in the state that’s ongoing and looks like it’s going to be going on for a while, and we’re not addressing that issue. And I would really encourage us to look for productive things that help the state of Idaho get through this pandemic.”

The House passed the measure with no debate.

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Kelcie Moseley-Morris
Kelcie Moseley-Morris

Kelcie Moseley-Morris is an award-winning journalist who has covered many topics across Idaho since 2011. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Idaho and a master’s degree in public administration from Boise State University. Moseley-Morris started her journalism career at the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, followed by the Lewiston Tribune and the Idaho Press.