Gem State Roundup

Citing ‘government overreach,’ Idaho Gov. Brad Little vetoes bill to pause COVID-19 vaccine requirements

By: - March 28, 2022 4:30 pm
Gov. Brad Little

Gov. Brad Little delivers the annual State of the State address from the floor of the House of Representatives at the Idaho State Capitol on Jan. 10, 2022. (Brian Myrick/Idaho Press)

Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Monday vetoed a bill that would block COVID-19 vaccine requirements until at least 2023.

In his letter explaining the veto, Little said his decision was based on the same limited-government philosophy that prompted him to sue the Biden administration over its COVID-19 vaccine requirements for certain workers.

“I am vetoing this legislation because I am a lifelong advocate of limited government, and Senate Bill 1381 significantly expands government overreach into the private sector,” Little wrote in his transmittal letter to Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, in her role as president of the Idaho Senate. “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.”

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Little last year issued an executive order that banned vaccine requirements by state government entities.

Senate Bill 1381 would create a one-year moratorium on businesses requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccines — otherwise known as “vaccine passports” — from employees or customers.

The bill carved out some exemptions, such as for businesses that accept Medicare or Medicaid, or unless vaccination is otherwise required by federal law.

The bill would expire one year after Idaho ends its state of emergency, which is expected to happen next month.

The bill passed the Senate on March 15 by a vote of 24-11, then passed the House on March 18 by a vote of 45-23 (with two absent). Based on those votes, the Legislature could override the governor’s veto; it would require a slim margin of one or two more votes in the House.

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Audrey Dutton
Audrey Dutton

Audrey Dutton, senior investigative reporter, joined the Idaho Capital Sun after 10 years at the Idaho Statesman. Her favorite topics to cover include health care, business, consumer protection issues and white collar crime. Dutton hails from Twin Falls. She attended college at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City. Before coming home to Idaho, Dutton worked as a journalist in Minnesota, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Dutton's work has earned dozens of state, regional and national awards for investigative reporting, health care and business reporting, data visualization and more.

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