State lawmakers in Idaho effortlessly advanced legislation Tuesday that provides residents with worker’s compensation benefits if they are left with side effects from taking a COVID-19 vaccine.
The state House passed the measure on a vote of 67-3 as part of a half-dozen other pieces of legislation related to the virus. All have since advanced to the Senate, according to reports.
“If the employer is telling you, you have to do this in order to work here, if they’re doing that, then, by golly, I think our system ought to provide a fair compensation method,” said Democratic Rep. John Gannon, according to Fox News.
The few opponents to the legislation argued that current worker compensation statutes are good enough to deal with any vaccine side effects even though some employees said they were having trouble getting benefits.
Some of the most common side effects from the virus, which have collectively been described as a general condition known as “long COVID,” include but are not limited to fatigue, fever, nausea, chills, muscle pain, and headaches, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has documented.
The Idaho bill was among seven passed this week related to the illness.
Another measure that passed 46-24 bars employers from openly questioning their employees’ sincerity who is claiming a religious exemption to the vaccine. Opponents to the bill said that people who simply did not want to take the job might not be truthful about their religious claims, but GOP Rep. Greg Cheney said in response that by questioning a person’s faith, it diminishes the “sacredness of what it means to claim a religious exemption… What it means to have a sincerely held faith.”
“Bills that would provide school mask mandate exemptions, prevent vaccine status ‘discrimination,’ prevent employers from asking employees about vaccine status, prohibit requiring proof of vaccination to enter or use state-owned public venues and that would provide employees medical, religious, philosophical and natural immunity exemptions for all vaccines also passed,” Fox News added.
Separately, both chambers of Idaho’s state legislature declared on a voice vote their opposition to President Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees, though on Wednesday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Labor Department agency that actually issued the rule, announced it was suspending enforcement actions set for a Jan. 4 deadline following a federal court ruling that ordered the agency not to do so.
“The court ordered that OSHA ‘take no steps to implement or enforce’ the [Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS)] ‘until further court order,’” OSHA said on its website, a reference to rulings from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal last week. Agency officials noted further that OSHA “remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies.”
“OSHA is complying with the 5th Circuit’s stay,” said a Department of Labor official, according to Fox News. “OSHA is not enforcing or implementing the reg – so they are not engaging or offering compliance assistance.”
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