Idaho governor repeals mask ban that political rival signed in his absence

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Idaho’s governor on Friday repealed a ban on COVID-19 mask mandates that his lieutenant governor signed while he was out of state, calling his fellow Republican’s actions “tyranny” and a “self-serving political stunt.”

A day after Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin authorized an executive order forbidding mask mandates, Governor Brad Little issued his own executive order reversing what he called a power grab.

McGeachin is running for governor in 2022 and Little, who is serving his first term, has not yet said whether he will seek re-election.

“The action that took place was an irresponsible, self-serving political stunt,” Little said in a statement.

“This kind of over-the-top executive action amounts to tyranny,” Little said. “Governing in a silo is NOT governing.”

McGeachin signed the ban on Thursday while Little was traveling for a conference of the Republican Governors Association. It forbid mask mandates, typically issued by local authorities such as municipalities and public schools in an effort to control coronavirus spread amid the pandemic that has killed 3.6 million people worldwide.

Little said he has always opposed a statewide mask order “because I don’t think top-down mandates change behavior the way personal choice does.”

Still, state mayors, local school boards and others have the authority to issue such mandates, and that power was “unilaterally and unlawfully” undercut by “the Lt. Governor’s flimsy executive order,” Little said.

Her order “runs contrary to a basic conservative principle – the government closest to the people governs best.”

McGeachin did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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