In September Joe Biden announced Covid-19 vaccine mandates for federal workers and contractors and for large employers. This week the Idaho legislature met to consider how to oppose that federal overreach.
Here is what happened:
This past Monday morning the Idaho legislature, both the House and Senate, reconvened to consider at least 30 different bills that would have created Idaho laws to counter the federal threat.
But, one of the first things that went wrong is actually a typical problem and is actually a systemic problem with the Idaho legislature. You see, 9 of the bills that would potentially protect Idahoans from vaccine mandates were assigned to the Health & Welfare committee in the Idaho House. That committee is chaired by Fred Wood, who is a physician for a living.
After reading the 9 bills on Monday, he went on record to declare that ” I profoundly disagree with all nine of them.” He then declared further that “If you don’t like that company and you don’t like its policy, go work somewhere else,” Wood said. In response to those saying it’s their right to not get vaccinated, Wood said “I have the right not to be infected by somebody that has a communicable disease.”
Then, as only 1 of 105 Idaho legislators, Wood declared that his committee would not meet to consider the bills, and so the bills were effectively dead. See, in Idaho, the committee chairmen have authoritarian power over what bills get heard or not. This could be changed by legislative rule or statute, but ONLY if we get enough of the right kind of legislators elected to the House and Senate. Legislators that believe in the American Republic and believe bill proposals brought by legislators should be given a fair hearing and be available to a public debate and to vote.
I don’t believe that we ought to have a handful of mini dictators in the Idaho legislature that can kill bills at will – that is a power even greater than the governor’s veto power, which at least can be overridden by a vote in the House and Senate.
Then came the next grievance.
Fortunately some of the bills proposed in the House were assigned to other committees that did meet. Those committees passed some of the bills to the Idaho House floor for a debate and vote, and a handful of the bills passed and were then sent to the senate for consideration.
On Wednesday, the senate State Affairs committee held a 4 hour hearing on three of those bills, took testimony and then decided to hold all three of the bills in committee, meaning that the bills were killed for the session (the other bills that had passed the House were denied a senate committee hearing altogether). The senate then adjourned Sine Die, which means the legislature goes home for now and will return for a new regular session in January. But, of course, there is urgency with these vaccine mandate bills, because Idahoans are losing their jobs now and may be unemployed by January.
The three bills killed in senate committee today were H414, H417 and H419. H414 related to a person’s right to refuse medical treatment based on their religious beliefs. H417 related to worker’s compensation insurance and provided that vaccine related injuries would be compensable, and H419 prevented employers from requiring employees to provide proof of a Covid-19 jab.
The senate started no bills, so that was just about the end of business for this legislative session except for one small thing…
One piece of legislation actually passed both the House and the Senate and does not need the governor’s signature…because it is not a new law.
What passed was actually SJM105, which stands for Senate Joint Memorial 105. You can read the language here.
A joint memorial reads like a resolution and is actually considered a petition, which is why it is not called a resolution. This resolution had some good language in it – things like:
• “Such an effort to compel Americans to submit to vaccination by using the force of federal government is an overreach of the power the
several states entrusted to that central government under the principles of
• “The Legislature finds that inoculation is a personal medical choice, and an attack on such choice is to chisel away at the freedom and liberty upon which this nation was founded. Vaccination should not be required as a condition of employment, public or private, and religious exemptions should always be honored”.
Good language, but a petition to the President, the US senate and the US Congress is NOT what is needed at this time. A gauntlet of Idaho law that contravenes federal mandates, asserts Idaho’s sovereignty and protects Idaho workers is what is needed. Even if the laws got tangled up in legal challenges for years.
A gauntlet of delays of federal mandates is what is needed. A fight for the rights of the people and the rights of state authority versus federal power is what is needed.
Now, here is the strangest thing of all.
So, the toothless memorial passed, but the senator that I am running against, a man that calls himself a Republican, and probably will claim in his re-election efforts to be “conservative”, actually suggested in the debate over the joint memorial that he would be opposing even this properly worded petition (we don’t know how each senator voted – it passed, but the vote was by voice vote only, meaning all in favor say aye, and the members’ individual votes were not recorded)!
Here is the video of his commentary on the senate floor:
While Idaho senator Jim Woodward joined the Democrats to oppose the Idaho legislature’s joint statement against federal vaccine mandates, I not only would have voted in favor of the joint petition, but I would have worked diligently to actually pass the laws that would have protected Idahoans from draconian Covid-19 federal vaccine mandates, laws that the senate this week killed.