Republican Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin serves as interim governor while Governor Brad Little is at the Republican Governors Association conference in Nashville, Tennessee. He was due to come back Thursday evening.
McGeachin announced his gubernatorial candidacy last week, challenging first-term incumbent Little. McGeachin is on the far right of the political spectrum in the Conservative state, and his order could bolster her support as a candidate for governor.
Little’s office said McGeachin had not let her know she planned to issue the executive order. The office did not say what Little would do when he returned, but said residents value local control.
Few things have ever issued a statewide mask warrant, but some counties, cities, and schools have. Many have lifted the warrants as more residents are vaccinated against COVID-19.
The executive order was signed by Republican or State Secretary Lawerence Denney and went into effect at 11 a.m. Denney’s office said it was confirming Little was out of state before determining the executive order was valid under the Idaho Constitution.
The order applies to city and county governments, public universities, colleges and schools, and public libraries. The ban does not apply to federal buildings, hospitals or healthcare facilities.
The courts are not specifically mentioned in the two-page ordinance, and it is not clear how the executive order would affect this branch of government.
She said she hoped Little would leave the order in effect when she returned.
About 590,000 of Idaho’s 1.8 million people have been vaccinated. State officials have reported that the virus has killed more than 2,000 people in the state and sickened around 190,000.
McGeachin said she had not been vaccinated and had no plans to do so. She believes she had COVID-19 last year and now has natural immunity. She said the experience for her was similar to the flu.
“I’m concerned about prolonged and long-term wearing of the mask, which it might do to our lungs,” she said, stressing that it was her personal belief. “If this is something the individual feels they need to do to protect themselves, then I support them. “
McGeachin noted that the Republican-dominated state House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a mask term ban earlier this year, but the bill died in the Senate when a powerful committee chairman, Republican Senator Fred Martin, refused to give him a hearing. ————
This story has been corrected to say that the order prohibits mask warrants, not masks.