Idaho Governor Brad Little Vetoes Bill That Bans Employer Vax Mandates

On Monday, Idaho Governor Brad Little vetoed a bill that that would block most private businesses from requiring COVID-19 vaccines for a year. In a veto letter, Little wrote that Senate Bill 1381 “significantly expands government overreach into the private sector.” The bill has support from top Senate Republicans.

“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 the government,” wrote Brad Little in a veto letter.

The Idaho legislature has repeatedly tried to ban the implementation of vaccine mandates in businesses across the state. Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder, R-Boise, who sponsored the bill, said it’s the most difficult legislation he’s sponsored in his six terms. It seeks to “thread the needle” between employee and employer interests, Winder said during a floor debate earlier this month.

The bill bars employers from requiring their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, though some exceptions have been made. This includes assisted living and nursing home businesses, employers who require travel to foreign countries with COVID-19 vaccine mandates, and businesses required by the federal government to impose the mandate, according to the Idaho Statesman.

The bill, which Senate Republicans have dubbed The Coronavirus Pause Act, would subject employers who implement mandates to fines of up to $1,000.

Last week the Idaho House and Senate both adjourned until Thursday, giving them time to wait out any vetoes from Little. “It’s difficult to override a veto,” Winder said on Friday. “But we think that’s the only way we can do it, if we hang around for five days.”

The veto from Governor Brad Little is likely to stand. The Coronavirus Pause Act passed both chambers with large margins, but not with a veto-proof majority in the House.

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Cullen McCue