Idaho cities

Cities in Idaho will not be allowed to enforce COVID mask mandate


The Idaho House of Representatives resumed operations on Tuesday April 6, 2021 after a two-week suspension resulting from a COVID-19 outbreak. Yet many Republican lawmakers refuse to wear masks and want to make any mandate on masks illegal.

Members of Idaho House on Wednesday approved a bill that would ban local governments from imposing mask warrants as a health precaution, despite concerns about the legality of the measure.

The bill would prohibit government entities or any public official from requiring face masks, screens or blankets. No one could be refused work, services or entry to a building because they are not wearing a mask. Hospitals and health facilities are exempt from the bill, but not the courts.

The bill would also seek to end “any” disaster emergency or public health order if a city or county violates the mask warrant ban. Despite fears that the bill will not stand up to legal scrutiny, House members approved it 46 to 23 votes. Republicans hold a 58-12 advantage in the House, so a few have. joined the Democrats in opposition.

Representative Karey Hanks, R-St. Anthony, who sponsored the bill, said people who have experienced “trauma” and negative experiences with face coverings should not be required to wear a mask. Even with the current warrants, those with health issues that prevent them from masquerading don’t have to wear one.

“It is a matter of personal rights and our freedom,” Hanks said on the floor of the House.

Health experts have consistently urged residents to wear face masks in public to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Governor Brad Little has never issued a statewide mask warrant, but seven counties and 11 cities in Idaho – including Boise – have such warrants, according to the Associated Press. Some health districts in Idaho have issued warrants for certain counties during the worst times of the virus’ spread.

Representative Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell, has pointed out in the past that the wording of the bill is broad enough to include a welding mask on a welder. It could also lead to the end of a disaster declaration if a county receptionist ordered a family member to wear a mask when entering the building, even if a higher-level employee rescinded that directive, he said. declared Wednesday.

Chaney said none of his concerns were addressed in the amended measure. He also criticized some lawmakers for likening mask warrants to sexual assault, but rejecting an earlier policy that could have helped survivors of sexual assault.

“This bill is a nice statement to make, and so if you’re here to make a statement, it’s a perfectly appropriate thing to vote for,” Chaney said. “But if you are here to govern, its technical shortcomings are far too great for it to be implemented successfully. “

The mask and warrant ban, House Bill 339, was one of the few bills passed by House members on Wednesday.

The Senate will be suspended until Monday, wait for the House to catch up

After a week of rushing through the Idaho Senate to pass bills, sometimes late in the evening, senators suspended four more days on Wednesday.

They are waiting for the House to pass supply bills. The Idaho legislature cannot adjourn the session unless it approves the budgets for each department.

Republican Senate leaders said on Wednesday they would close their doors until Monday to give House members a chance to catch up on passing budget bills. Senators should not approve other measures without first passing budget bills that the legislature is required to approve, said Deputy Senate Majority Leader Abby Lee, R-Fruitland .

“It is not prudent to advance proposals for tax relief or major investments in transport and infrastructure until we have a complete picture of the funding available to invest in projects or return to taxpayers of the ‘Idaho,’ Lee said in a press release.

The House has so far rejected a bill to fund the salaries of preschool and higher education teachers, as more and more Republican lawmakers have claimed they tried to push forward a “justice” agenda. social “and indoctrinate children in classrooms. The House also rejected Little’s recommendation for the Attorney General’s budget.

Hayat Norimine covers state policy for the Statesman. She has covered government for The Dallas Morning News and in Washington State, graduated from the University of Washington and holds a Masters of Journalism from Northwestern.