Idaho lieutenant governor uses temporary power to ban vaccine mandates across the state

While Idaho Gov. Brad Little was out of state, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin utilized her temporary executive power, issuing a ban on vaccine mandates in the state. The ban, which McGeachin imposed on Tuesday, will be rescinded, according to Little.

McGeachin wrote about her Executive Order in a tweet Tuesday, during Gov. Little’s trip to Texas: “Today, as Acting Governor, I fixed Gov. Little’s Executive Order on “vaccine passports” to make sure that K-12 schools and universities cannot require vaccinations OR require mandatory testing. I will continue to fight for your individual Liberty!”

Little’s original order, which had been made back in the spring, prevents state agencies from requiring proof of coronavirus vaccinations, but it did not specifically include universities and public schools.

On Tuesday, Little released a statement which read, “I am in Texas performing my duties as the duly elected Governor of Idaho, and I have not authorized the Lt. Governor to act on my behalf. … I will be rescinding and reversing any actions taken by the Lt. Governor when I return.”

This is not the first time the pair has faced a situation of this kind. In May, when Little was out at the Republican Governors Association conference, McGeachin issued a similar ban on mask mandates. At the time, there was no statewide mask mandate, but masks were required by an executive order at long-term care facilities and were “strongly recommended” everywhere else. Again, Little repealed the ban when he returned to the state.

Additionally on Tuesday, McGeachin asked about sending Idaho National Guard troops to the Mexican border, which is where Little and other Republican governors had traveled. Major General Michael Garshak, the adjutant general of the state’s national Guard, rejected the request.

He said, “I am unaware of any request for Idaho National Guard assistance under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) from Texas or Arizona … As you are aware, the Idaho National Guard is not a law enforcement agency.”

Little also addressed McGeachin’s attempt to mobilize the National Guard. “Attempting to deploy our National Guard for political grandstanding is an affront to the Idaho constitution and insults the men and women who have dedicated their life to serving our state and the country,” he said.

Jacklyn Kettler, a political scientist at Boise State University, said that while Little and McGeachin are both Republicans, McGeachin leans further to the right. Kettler also said, “there are many Idahoans that are perhaps baffled or frustrated with these type of developments,” the developments being tension between the two, especially regarding coronavirus measures.

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