Bill Description: Senate Bill 1088 would prohibit most new coronavirus vaccine mandates, with some exceptions.
Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?
Free people should have the right to medical privacy and to determine what medical procedures to undergo or forgo based on their own beliefs and preferences. A well-written statutory protection of medical privacy would prevent governments, employers, or service providers from ever requesting information relating to one's vaccination status or other medical information. Such protection would eliminate discrimination based on this information.
Senate Bill 1088 doesn't do this. Instead, Senate Bill 1088 would create Chapter 5, Title 73, Idaho Code, titled the "Coronavirus Stop Act" to prohibit most new coronavirus vaccine mandates but allow some exceptions.
Simply by limiting its provisions to the "coronavirus vaccination," Senate Bill 1088 severely limits its effectiveness and applicability.
Additionally, the "legislative intent" portion of the bill puts forth a novel theory. It says that the state cannot constitutionally "pass laws impairing the obligation of contracts," and therefore "the provisions of this act do not apply to contracts existing prior to the effective date of this act." It is notable that this theory has not been applied in the past to many other state laws that impair the obligation of contracts, such as minimum wage laws and anti-discrimination laws.
The chapter created by Senate Bill 1088 contains several subsections detailing when governments and private entities may or may not impose coronavirus vaccination mandates.
"A business entity doing business in the state of Idaho shall not refuse to provide any service, product, admission to a venue, or transportation to a person because that person has or has not received a coronavirus vaccination."
"A business entity doing business in the state of Idaho shall not require a coronavirus vaccination as a term of employment unless required by federal law or in such cases where the terms of employment include travel to foreign jurisdictions requiring coronavirus vaccinations as the only coronavirus-related means of entry or where the terms of employment require entry into a place of business or facility in a foreign jurisdiction and such place of business or facility requires a coronavirus vaccination as the only coronavirus-related means of entry."
"A ticket issuer shall not penalize, discriminate against, or deny access to an entertainment event to a ticket holder because the ticket holder has or has not received a coronavirus vaccination."
"Unless required by federal law, no state, county, or local government entity or official in Idaho shall require any person to receive a coronavirus vaccination."
"Unless required by federal law, no state, county, or local government entity or official in Idaho shall require any person to receive a coronavirus vaccination as a condition for: (a) Receipt of any government benefit; (b) Receipt of any government services; (c) Receipt of any government-issued license or permit; (d) Entrance into any public building; (e) Use of public transportation; or (f) A term of employment, provided that such entities that receive medicare or medicaid funding shall be exempt from the requirements of this paragraph."
These provisions might provide some protection to Idahoans, but they are riddled with exceptions and are limited only to the coronavirus vaccine. Even more critically, the protections provided don't prohibit any of these entities from requesting or obtaining private medical information. These entities are instead narrowly prohibited from engaging in discrimination based on one particular piece of medical information, which they never should have had access to in the first place.
Does it violate the principles of federalism by increasing federal authority, yielding to federal blandishments, or incorporating changeable federal laws into Idaho statutes or rules? Examples include citing federal code without noting as it is written on a certain date, using state resources to enforce federal law, and refusing to support and uphold the Tenth Amendment. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the principles of federalism?
Throughout Senate Bill 1088, we find repeated deference to federal law including one blanket exception for "entities that receive medicare or medicaid funding." It is always problematic when a bill incorporates changeable federal laws into Idaho statutes or rules, but it is particularly inexcusable when it does not specify any federal laws or regulations. Instead, necessary protections of individual rights are subjected to a generic exception of "unless required by federal law".