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Gov. Little Strikes Down Lieutenant Governor's Executive Order

Darin Oswald
Idaho Statesman

Governor Brad Little has reversed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s ban on mask mandates around Idaho.

McGeachin made the executive order yesterday when Little left the state. In a scathing statement today, he said it was an “irresponsible, self-serving political stunt” that “amounts to tyranny.”

“Taking the earliest opportunity to act solitarily on a highly politicized, polarizing issue without conferring with local jurisdictions, legislators, and the sitting Governor is, simply put, an abuse of power,” Little said.

McGeachin is using the order she signed yesterday as part of a fundraising push as she runs for governor, possibly against Little.

McGeachin said she signed the 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.”

But an opinion issued by the Idaho Attorney General’s Office said McGeachin exceeded her authority with the order.

“Oddly, it seems to have been issued in an effort to undermine the existing authorities of the state and its political subdivisions to issue mask mandates,” the opinion says.

Gov. Little said the order had “alarming unintended consequences,” including abandoning safety measures for social workers working with at-risk individuals, workers at state labs or employees at congregate facilities that are vulnerable to outbreaks of infectious disease.

He also claims it violated the law. Little’s order states McGeachin’s ban yesterday “violates the separation of powers doctrine by encroaching on the Legislature’s prerogative to make statewide policy and legislatively refine the powers of cities, counties, schools, and public health districts.”

“This is why you do your homework, Lt. Governor,” he said.

The governor noted that McGeachin’s order was also extremely similar to a bill that failed to gain enough support to make it through the legislature.

McGeachin took to social media in response to Gov. Little’s statements.

“Little chose to revoke your personal freedom by rescinding my order and imposing mask manatees on thousands of Idaho children” she said.

She said she remains undeterred in her actions, calling it part of a bigger ideology, “embraced by leaders like Gov. (Greg) Abbott in Texas and Gov. (Ron) DeSantis in Florida.”

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