While Idaho Gov. Brad Little was out of town, Republican Lieutenant Gov. Janice McGeachin took it upon herself to issue an executive order banning all mask mandates in the state. Without informing Little of her plan, Lt. Gov. McGeachin was taking it upon herself to end the mask mandates across various counties and cities.
Gov. Little has faced criticism and scrutiny from McGeachin over how he handled the coronavirus pandemic. She announced her plans for a gubernatorial campaign at a rally in Boise, saying that Little’s leadership has not done enough to protect the rights and liberties of individuals and businesses. That was shortly before she issued her executive order.
“Today, as acting Governor of the State of Idaho, I signed an Executive Order to protect the rights and liberties of individuals and businesses by prohibiting the state and its political subdivisions — including public schools — from imposing mask mandates in our state,” Lt. Gov. McGeachin tweeted.
McGeachin’s executive order was signed by the Secretary of State and put into effect at 11:00 AM Thursday, May 27. While Little never implemented a statewide mask mandate, many counties and cities still had their mandates in place.
“Governor Little has never put in place a statewide mask mandate. Throughout the pandemic, Governor Little has been committed to protecting the health and safety of the people of Idaho and has emphasized the importance of Idahoans choosing to protect our neighbors and loved ones and keeping our economy and schools open,” a spokesperson for Gov. Little told KTVB news.
McGeachin, however, argued that what she’s seen over the last year is “unacceptable” and a violation of our individual rights. She said state sovereignty and traditional conservative values are ‘intolerable’ and that she refuses to stand by to let these abuses go unchallenged. Gov. Little has not announced a decision if he plans to run for re-election.
Gov. Little repealed McGeachin’s executive order that banned statewide mask mandates when he returned from his trip on Friday. He said that her actions are an “abuse of power” and that she is a member of the “far-right” who has worked to undermine his handling of the pandemic.
“I have opposed a statewide mask mandate all along because I don’t think top-down mandate change behavior the way personal choice does. But, as your Governor, when it came to masks, I also didn’t undermine separately elected officials who, under Idaho law, are given authorities to take measures they believe will protect the health and safety of the people they serve,” Gov. Little said.
Little called McGeachin’s move an “irresponsible, self-serving political stunt” that subverted the decisions of local officials and among state political entities, including schools. He said that it caught districts by surprise in the middle of the school day. He described it as an order that “usurps legislative powers” and replicates a bill that was debated considerably in the Legislature but failed to pass. He said the action that took place while he was gone was not “gubernatorial” and failed to represent Idahoans from all corners of the state.
McGeachin said that Gov. Little chose to “revoke your personal freedom” by rescinding her order and that she knows protecting individual liberty means fighting against tyranny at all levels of government – federal, state, and local.
It was certainly a political stunt, and it worked. But now, people who have the vaccine are looking at the continued orders and the one Little had to rescind and wondering how long the pandemic will be prolonged for political posturing.