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Idaho Governor Returns to State, Strikes Down ‘Irresponsible, Self-Serving’ Mask Order Issued by Lt. Gov. in His Absence

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When the cat’s away the mice will end mask mandates — at least until the cat returns and shows his claws.

Such is the state of government in Idaho, where Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s brief rebellion against mask mandates was denounced by Gov. Brad Little as he wiped away her mark on the state.

On Thursday, McGeachin took advantage of Little’s absence to issue an executive order that banned any mask mandates in the state.

Although McGeachin and Little are both Republicans, they are also expected to be opponents in the 2022 election for governor.

Little’s return prompted a new executive order wiping away McGeachin’s edict. He explained the reasons in a statement on his website.


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We could talk ’til we’re blue in the face about masks and whether they work — whether mask mandates work — but I think the people of Idaho are tired of hearing about it. With the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine and steady declines in case counts and hospitalizations, masks are, thankfully, becoming a thing of the past,” he wrote.

He then touted his record.

“For the record, though, I have opposed a statewide mask mandate all along because I don’t think top-down mandates change behavior the way personal choice does.  But, as your Governor, when it came to masks, I also didn’t 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,” he said in the statement.

“An executive order that was issued while I was out of state this week 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,”

Should all mask mandates be lifted?

He then scolded McGeachin.

“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,” he wrote.

“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,” he wrote.

He then said his lieutenant governor was guilty of “tyranny.”

“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,” he wrote.


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“The executive order also conflicts with other laws on the books. This is why you do your homework, Lt. Governor,” he wrote. “Let me offer some advice as Idaho’s duly elected Governor — governing in a silo is NOT governing.” 

McGeachin offered her rebuttal on Twitter.

Little said that he did not like  “petty politics” or “political stunts” but said that “the significant consequences of the Lt. Governor’s flimsy executive order require me to clean up a mess.”

He said that his executive order does no more than set back the clock to before McGeachin acted.

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