Idaho Governor Little repeals mask tenure ban, criticizes Lieutenant Governor for ‘irresponsible abuse of power’

The governor called Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin’s executive order “an irresponsible and selfish political coup” that overturned the decisions of local officials.

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho Gov. Brad Little repealed an executive order banning mask warrants statewide on Friday morning, 24 hours after Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin launched the surprise action as the governor was out of town.

In a statement, Little criticized McGeachin by issuing the executive order as “an irresponsible and selfish political coup” that overturned the decisions of local officials and the people of Idaho.

McGeachin was acting governor when she issued the order to ban mask warrants statewide among political entities in the state, including schools. The ordinance went into effect at 11 a.m. Thursday, taking districts by surprise in the middle of the school day.

Little, who had left Idaho to attend the Republican Governors Association conference, said he was not notified in advance of the executive order. McGeachin runs against Little in the upcoming governor’s race.

In her statement, Little accused McGeachin of making a politically motivated takeover to strip decision-making power from mayors, school board members and other local officials.

“Just as states give up federal government mandates, local governments in Idaho don’t want the state to do the same. The executive order usurps legislative powers. It reproduces a bill that was debated at length in the Legislature but failed to adopt a group of individuals representing Idahoans from all over the state, and made it law with the stroke of a pen, ”the governor wrote. action that took place during my absence this week is not a governor. The action that took place was an irresponsible and selfish political coup. “

“To seize the first opportunity to act in solitude on a highly politicized and polarizing issue without speaking to local jurisdictions, lawmakers and the sitting governor is, quite simply, an abuse of power,” Little continued.

McGeachin wrote in a statement on his Facebook page that the governor “has chosen to revoke your personal liberty by rescinding my order.

“I understand that protecting individual freedom means fighting tyranny at ALL levels of government – federal, state and local. God has the right to make your own decisions about health, and no state, city or school district ‘never has the power to violate your inalienable rights, “she wrote.” As Lieutenant Governor, I remain unfazed and unwavering in my commitment to defend your rights and freedoms against all who violate them. Now, more than ever, we must stand together against those who prioritize their own power over individual freedom. “

Little has repeatedly refused to issue a statewide mask warrant, even amid the worst COVID-19 toll in Idaho. However, he has long argued that cities, counties and school districts should make the decisions about which facial covers they deem best suited for their own communities.

Legal experts warned on Thursday that McGeachin’s executive order could face legal challenges. Several school districts, including Boise and West Ada, said they were consulting with their own district attorneys about the power of their school boards to enforce health and safety protocols before making changes.

Little reiterated that the order to ban mask warrants conflicts with other Idaho laws and has “some pretty alarming unintended consequences.” For example, the governor said, it would no longer be possible to require security measures for social workers visiting high-risk clients, state laboratory workers, or workers at facilities vulnerable to outbreaks.

“That’s why you do your homework, Lieutenant Governor,” Little wrote. “Let me give some advice as the duly elected governor of Idaho – governing in silos is NOT governing. I am always reluctant to engage in political ploys, especially when I have been resolute. to achieve the simultaneous goals of protecting lives and livelihoods. I do. I don’t like petty politics. I don’t like political stunts on the rule of law. However, the consequences of order Lieutenant Governor’s fragile executive force me to clean up a mess. “

The governor’s executive order functionally overrules McGeachin’s action, reverting Idaho law to what it was before.

Governor Brad Little’s full statement is included below:

We could talk until we get blue on the face of the masks and find out if they work – if mask mandates work – but I think the people of Idaho are tired of hearing about it.

With the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and the steadily declining number of cases and hospitalizations, masks are thankfully becoming a thing of the past.

For the record, however, I objected to a statewide mask mandate all the way through because I don’t think top-down mandates change behaviors the way personal choices do.

But, as your governor, when it comes to masks, I have also not undermined the separated elected officials who under Idaho law are authorized to take actions that they believe will protect. the health and safety of the people they serve.

An executive order that was issued while I was out of state this week flies in the face of a basic conservative principle – the government closest to the people governs better.

The executive order unilaterally and illegally removes the powers given to state mayors, local school board administrators, and others.

Just as states blame federal government mandates, local governments in Idaho blame the state for doing the same.

The executive decree usurps legislative powers. It reproduces a bill that was debated at length in the Legislative Assembly but failed, making law with the stroke of a pen.

The action that took place while I was traveling this week is not housekeeper.

The action that took place was an irresponsible and selfish political coup.

Seizing the first opportunity to act in solitude on a highly politicized and polarizing issue without speaking to local jurisdictions, lawmakers and the sitting governor is, quite simply, an abuse of power.

This kind of exaggerated executive action amounts to tyranny – which we all oppose.

How ironic that the action has come from someone who has been complaining about tyranny, executive overstretching, and the balance of power for months.

In addition, the decree has rather alarming consequences. For example, we would not be able to require security measures for social workers visiting the homes of people at risk, or workers in our public testing laboratory, or employees in collective facilities who are particularly vulnerable to epidemics. of infectious diseases, threatening to lose their lives. and additional strain on the health care system on which we all depend.

The executive decree is also in conflict with other laws in force.

That’s why you’re doing your homework, Lieutenant Governor.

Let me offer some advice as the duly elected governor of Idaho – governing in silos is NOT governing.

I am always reluctant to engage in political ploys, especially when I have been determined to achieve the simultaneous goals of protecting both lives. and means of subsistence.

I don’t like petty politics. I don’t like political stunts on the rule of law.

However, the significant consequences of the Lieutenant Governor’s fragile executive order require me to clean up a mess.

With my own executive order today, I’m going to make Idaho law back to what it was before 11am Thursday.

To the people of Idaho, I want to thank you once again, as I have done time and time again throughout the pandemic, for protecting your loved ones and making it possible for us to get through some of the months. darkest in the history of our state.

As your governor, I have worked hard to protect lives and the capacity of essential health care for the entire state while keeping families and businesses and schools safe.

Every decision has been a balancing act and I believe we have struck a balance. We have managed to avert a crisis in our hospitals and have kept our state open longer than almost any other state.

Idaho has the strongest economy in the country and the most financially solvent state budget. With our record-breaking budget surplus, we’ve given the people of Idaho historic tax relief and made strategic investments in building Idaho’s future for our roads, schools, broadband and other critical areas.

Few states can claim this kind of success.

It is an honor for me to be your governor and I remain committed to working responsible to achieve our shared goal of making Idaho the place our children and grandchildren choose to stay.

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