Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin is catching heat from her boss.
While serving as acting governor this week, the Republican lawmaker issued an executive order that banned mask mandates across the state. And she apparently did without informing Idaho’s governor or his office.
According to KTVB7, the mask mandate prohibition went into effect at 11 a.m. Thursday, while Gov. Brad Little was traveling to the Republican Governors Association conference. Little told reporters Friday he had no knowledge of the executive order ahead of time and has decided to repeal the measure, which he described as a “self-serving political stunt.”
“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 wrote in a statement. “This kind of over-the-top executive action amounts to tyranny – something we all oppose. How ironic that the action comes from a person who has groused about tyranny, executive overreach, and balance of power for months.”
Little also pointed out his refusal to institute a statewide mask mandate, saying he believes it is up to county and city governments to implement measures they believe will keep their communities safe.
“The executive order unilaterally and unlawfully takes away authorities given to the state’s mayors, local school board trustees, and others,” he wrote. “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.”
McGeachin, who is challenging Little in Idaho’s upcoming governor’s race, has been a vocal opponent of mask mandates, which she claims “threaten” Idahoans’ rights to free choice. She has since responded to the repeal via Facebook, accusing Little of revoking residents’ “freedom.”
“I understand that protecting individual liberty means fighting against tyranny at ALL levels of government — federal, state, and local,” her statement read in part. “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. As your Lt. Governor, I remain undeterred and unwavering in my commitment to defend your rights and freedoms against all who would violate them. Now, more than ever, we must stand together against those who prioritize their own power above individual liberty.”
According to the New York Times’ database, Idaho has tallied more than 192,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 2,000 virus-related deaths.