May 28, 2021 - Health

Idaho governor repeals lieutenant governor's mask mandate ban

Picture of Idaho Gov. Brad Little in 2016, with former Vice President Mike Pence standing behind him

Former Vice President Mike Pence and Idaho Gov. Brad Little in 2020. Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) on Friday repealed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin's (R) executive order that banned statewide mask mandates one day earlier, calling her action an "an abuse of power."

The big picture: While Little — who is expected to seek re-election — never issued a statewide mask mandate, some were put in place in counties, cities and schools. McGeachin, who recently announced her own gubernatorial campaign, issued the order on Thursday without informing Little's office.

  • McGeachin is " a member of the far-right who has worked to undermine Little’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic," AP writes.

What he's saying: "I have opposed a statewide mask mandate all along because I don’t think top-down mandates change behavior the way personal choice does," Little said in a statement Friday.

  • "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 added.
  • "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 usurps legislative powers. It replicates a bill that was debated considerably in the Legislature but failed, making law with the stroke of a pen. 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."
Go deeper