Idaho’s governor on Friday repealed a mask mandate ban that was implemented while he was away on a trip.
The state’s lieutenant governor, Janice McGeachin, a Republican who is running for governor, issued an executive order the day prior barring local governments from requiring masks be worn. She did so with the authority she had as acting governor because Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, was out of state.
Little quickly reversed the action with his own executive order, repealing the ban.
In a statement, Little said that he has always opposed a statewide mask mandate but did not want to “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.
McGeachin’s order, he asserted, “runs contrary to a basic conservative principle—the government closest to the people governs best.”
“The executive order unilaterally and unlawfully takes away authorities given to the state’s mayors, local school board trustees, and others. Just like the states begrudge federal government mandates, local governments in Idaho resent the state doing the same thing. The executive order usurps legislative powers. It replicates a bill that was debated considerably in the Legislature but failed, making law with the stroke of a pen. The action that took place while I was traveling this week is not gubernatorial. The action that took place was an irresponsible, self-serving political stunt,” he added.
McGeachin responded by accusing Little of a conservative solution that she noted has been utilized by Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida, both Republicans.
“I understand that protecting individual liberty means fighting against tyranny at ALL levels of government—federal, state, and local. It is your God-given right to make your own health decisions and no state, city, or school district ever has the authority to violate your unalienable rights,” she added.
McGeachin had announced last week her campaign challenging Little from the right.
The Idaho Democratic Party cheered Little’s move, saying McGeachin’s order “would only hurt our communities.”
The Idaho GOP has not weighed in on the situation.