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McGeachin issues another executive order in Little’s absence, this time for vaccine mandates

Politics

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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — With the governor out of the state, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin issued a new executive order on “vaccine passports” on Tuesday, continuing a pattern of issuing pandemic-related orders. Gov. Brad Little has already said he will reverse it.

McGeachin announced the order on social media, declaring that all state agencies, including public K-12 schools and universities, would be prohibited from requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or requiring mandatory testing for people to access services.

The order is an extension of a similar order Little issued in April. Little’s original order had encompassed all state facilities, but not K-12 public schools.

RELATED | Idaho National Guard boss shuns Lt. Gov. McGeachin border request

She said in a tweet announcing the order that it would “fix” the ban on vaccine passports by broadening it to include a ban on mandatory testing for COVID-19. McGeachin is running against Little for the Republican nomination in next year’s gubernatorial election.

Little said in a statement on Twitter: “I will be rescinding and reversing any actions taken by the Lt. Governor when I return.”

Her order sparked condemnation from members of her own party. Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, issued a statement decrying McGeachin’s “overreach” in issuing the executive order. Bedke is running to replace McGeachin as lieutenant governor.

“This is a complete grandstand and abuse of her political office in an attempt to influence voters,” Bedke said.

Bedke also hinted he would be reconvening the Legislature to deny President Joe Biden’s recent order requiring large businesses to vaccinate their employees, once agreement is reached by legislative leaders.

Rep. Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell, asked McGeachin on Twitter, “How stupid can you be?”

On Twitter and Facebook, Little said McGeachin attempted to order the Idaho National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border. Little was scheduled to speak at the border in Texas with several other governors on Tuesday.

Maj. Gen. Michael Garshak, who heads the state’s National Guard, told McGeachin she could not send troops to the border, according to The Associated Press.

“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,” Little said.

Idaho Lt. Gov. McGeachin issues order terminating public agency mask mandates

It’s not the first time McGeachin has issued an executive order as acting governor when Little has left Idaho. In May, she issued an order banning all mask mandates in Idaho, which Little reversed upon his return.

“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 said at the time. “This kind of over-the-top executive action amounts to tyranny — something we all oppose.”

McGeachin’s office did not immediately return requests for comment.

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