Idaho’s governor repealed a mask mandate ban on May 28 that was implemented while he was away on a trip.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 that masks be worn. She did so with the authority she had as acting governor because Idaho 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 didn’t 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,” Little said.
McGeachin responded by accusing Little of neglecting a conservative solution that she noted has been implemented by Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida, both of whom are 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 said.
McGeachin 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 state’s Republican Party hasn’t weighed in on the situation.