By Wayne Hoffman


Isn’t it convenient that certain members of the Idaho Legislature and Gov. Brad Little are suddenly feigning interest in limited government? They say they’re not interested in stopping government-funded Idaho hospitals and clinics from imposing a vaccine mandate on all their employees, volunteers, and vendors because they’re against regulation.


How disingenuous is that? Let me count the ways. Let’s start with Sen. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls. He sent an email saying he won’t challenge the vaccine mandate because he’s against “big government dictating to all businesses in Idaho.”


I laughed out loud, because that’s not the Jim Patrick I know, who has a 44% on the Freedom Index for a reason. Is this the same Jim Patrick who voted for Democrat Melissa Wintrow’s bill to require that insurance companies provide coverage for 12 months of contraceptives? The same Jim Patrick who voted to expand the regulation of services between homeowners and contractors? The same Jim Patrick who voted to interfere in the businesses of landlords?


Patrick’s record for supporting bigger government goes back ages. But let’s just look at last year when he voted against ending the governor’s state of emergency, which as you will recall, was used to unilaterally shut down Idaho businesses. Isn’t that the epitome of “big government dictating to all businesses in Idaho?”


He also voted for the ACLU’s bill ordering that employers not be allowed to ask potential new employees about their criminal histories.


But maybe his email was written in haste, and might Patrick had thought to elaborate, he would have said it’s just hospitals and clinics he believes should be protected from government interference. If so, how does the senator explain his vote for the 2020’s Idaho Patient Act? That’s the law sponsored by billionaire Frank Vandersloot that imposes so many regulations on medical providers that it makes it challenging for them to collect the money they’re owed. The law is so problematic that lawmakers passed a bill this year delaying its implementation.


Why would Patrick vote to support one law that regulates medical providers but not any attempt to stop medical providers from imposing a vaccine mandate? Weird, huh?


Patrick, of course, isn’t alone in his opposition to the Legislature intervening in the vaccine mandate that Saint Alphonsus, St. Luke’s, and Primary Health are attempting to impose on thousands of Idahoans. The Senate Republican Caucus said in a press release last week, “As Senate Republicans we hold firm the belief that state government should not overregulate business.”


Hats off to them for saying so, but it would be even better if it were actually true. With few exceptions, the Senate Republican Caucus is hard to distinguish as a whole from the Senate Democrat Caucus.


That’s not to say the disingenuousness solely rests with senators. Indeed, House Speaker Scott Bedke has made similar pronouncements extolling the virtues of limited government. Bedke is not going to let his rhetoric be saddled by a 20-year-record of voting for the opposite.


And what of Gov. Brad Little? He signed the Patient Act, so clearly he’s favorable to government intervention in medical practices. And he infamously ordered all Idahoans to stay home and made decisions about which businesses and which employees are essential. Yet he has the temerity to tell a town hall that his “default position is that it’s usually best if [issues are] worked out between the employees and employer.”


I’ll be the first one to applaud anyone who stands in the way of government regulations, but it’s fascinating how legislators have chosen this moment and particular issue to sit on their hands. Do they really believe what they’re saying, or are they hoping that their constituents aren’t smart enough to do their own research and figure it out? The record proves, quite clearly, that many in the Idaho Legislature have no problem telling the private sector what to do.


I’m not calling on lawmakers or the governor to order hospitals around. But I’ve also been clear that they do have a role to play, as the state government has created the medical monopoly that acts against the people whose paychecks depend on whether they’re willing to submit to an experimental vaccine. These hospitals and clinics get revenue from every level of government and are exempt from all manner of taxation. That’s a system that was set up by the Legislature and is clearly within its purview to reconsider.


State officials who are insisting that they’re unable to get involved because they have some kind of penitent for limited government are simply being dishonest.

Wayne Hoffman is president of Idaho Freedom Foundation.