Republican Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin took an extremely bold step Thursday by signing an executive order banning local mask mandates.
Her colleague, Republican Gov. Brad Little, was out of state for the Republican Governors Association conference in Nashville, Tennessee, this week, making McGeachin the acting governor under the state’s constitution, according to East Idaho News.
“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,” she tweeted on Thursday.
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. #idpol pic.twitter.com/Nmb6DX9v6X
— Janice McGeachin (@JaniceMcGeachin) May 27, 2021
Little and McGeachin are currently running against each other in the 2022 gubernatorial election.
As the nation slowly weans off of the restrictions imposed in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, especially with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer recommending masks for fully vaccinated individuals, this was likely a move welcomed by many Idahoans.
Except Little was not made aware of the move, according to his office, which caused him to later rescind the order.
“The Lt. Governor did not make Governor Little aware of her executive order ahead of time,” the governor’s office said in a statement.
“The Governor’s Office is reviewing the Lt. Governor’s executive order. 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.”
McGeachin was irate upon learning of the decision, saying that Little chose to violate Idahoans’ “personal freedom.”
Yesterday, I signed an Executive Order banning mask mandates in Idaho, including in our public schools. Today, Gov. Little chose to revoke your personal freedom by rescinding my order and imposing mask mandates on thousands of Idaho children. Read my full statement below. #idpol pic.twitter.com/c3Wana5UvU
— Janice McGeachin (@JaniceMcGeachin) May 28, 2021
All things considered, however, it appears that this was merely a political move by McGeachin to garner Republican support for her campaign, so Little’s decision to rescind the order is reasonable.
“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, according to East Idaho News.
Little never enacted a statewide mask mandate, so local governments were threatening to take legal action following McGeachin’s order.
I do not like petty politics. I do not like political stunts over the rule of law. However, the significant consequences of the Lt. Governor’s flimsy executive order require me to clean up a mess.https://t.co/kDbQJ08wsc
— Brad Little (@GovernorLittle) May 28, 2021
Both things can be true at once: Restrictive mask mandates should be lifted and this was a backstabbing, politically motivated action.
While the argument that banning local mask mandates expands freedoms is strong, McGeachin’s actions resemble the abuse of power that Americans have witnessed since the pandemic started.
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