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McGeachin Signs Executive Order Banning Mask Mandates With Little Out Of State

Janice McGeachin for governor
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, right, shortly before greeting a crowd on the steps of the Idaho Capitol in Boise as she announces her bid for governor in 2022.

Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin signed an executive order as acting governor Thursday morning prohibiting the state from mandating face masks, according to a tweet she wrote. The order applies to all state entities, including schools.

McGeachin was acting governor because Gov. Little was out of state, according to his office.

“Governor Little has been out of state this week collaborating with other Republican governors, and the Lt. Governor did not make Governor Little aware of her executive order ahead of time,” the governor’s press secretary wrote in an emailed statement.

Gov. Little has not put a statewide mask mandate in place during the pandemic, but several cities, counties and school boards have implemented that virus mitigation action on their own.

McGeachin said her action is to “protect the rights and liberties of the individuals and businesses by prohibiting the state and its political subdivisions — including public schools — from imposing mask mandates in our state.”

The order states it applies to the state and its political subdivisions, which include counties, cities, public health districts, community colleges, public libraries and public schools. It does not include federal buildings, hospitals or health care facilities.

Some schools, including the Boise and West Ada School districts, still have mask mandates in place.

The lieutenant governor typically fills in while the governor travels out of state or is otherwise unavailable. In his previous role as lt. governor under Butch Otter, Brad Little joked that the perks of being acting governor included a better parking spot for the day.

McGeachin announced her run for governor last week. At the time, a spokesperson for Gov. Little said he did not have a campaign team in place.

Gov. Little’s press secretary said his office will make an expanded statement available “after a more thorough review of this executive action.”

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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