This past Tuesday, the legislature of Montana pass a bill stopping employers from mandating that their employees must take the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of continued employment.
The new bill would stop employers from denying employment opportunities, educational opportunities, privileges, licensing, goods, or services based on whether or not the person has taken the vaccine or if they are in possession of an immunity passport. They are, however, still allowed to strongly recommend that their employees get the vaccine.
The bill was changed so that it would not change vaccine requirements at public schools, but that individuals can seek religious or medical exemptions to any vaccination requirements.
The bill will not be sent to Republican Governor Greg Gianforte to be signed into law.
“Up to now Montana employers have respected the fundamental, personal, medical and religious freedoms of Montanans,” Tom McGillvray, a GOP state senator who was the one to present the bill, stated this past week, according to the Associated Press.
“However, that’s not the case anymore,” he continued. “There are employers … that are requiring and coercing employees to get vaccinations under threat of termination and intimidation.”
Some health care organizations voiced their dislike about the bill, the Montana Hospital Association expressed concerns that it “will prevent healthcare facilities from screening potential employees in the hiring process without violating the newly created discrimination provisions in the bill.”
This law “unravels more than 50 years of medical science and expert guidance in protecting patients and health care workers from infectious diseases,” stated the president and CEO of the Montana Hospital Associated, Rich Rasmussen.
Jennifer Carlson, a Republican state representative who sponsored the bill, took the opposite mindset and stated that the bill “does not in any way prevent any employer from taking reasonable safety precautions, just as any hospital currently does, with an employee who does not have a flu shot.”
This move by the Montana legislature cropped up just after Gianforte issued an executive order earlier this past month that banned the use of all vaccine passports or any documentation of a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status in the state.
“I strongly encourage Montanans to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Receiving one is entirely voluntary and won’t be mandated by the state,” the governor tweeted on April 13th. “That’s why today I issued an executive order prohibiting ‘vaccine passports,’ and I’ll continue protecting individual liberty and personal privacy.”
This lines up with several other states that have recently banned all vaccine passports. Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah have all issued documentation that takes action against all mandatory vaccine passports, arguing that it violates the privacy and civil rights of residents.