On Friday, May 28, 2021, Gov. Little rescinded an executive order that was issued by Lt. Gov. McGeachin while Gov. Little was out of state. Lt. Gov. McGeachin’s order prohibited any government entity to enact or enforce a mask mandate in the state of Idaho.
Gov. Little’s statement after rescinding this order was appalling and insulting to Idahoans. Gov. Little mentioned that “government closest to the people governs best.” He referred to Lt. Gov. McGeachin’s order as an “abuse of power,” and said it was “not gubernatorial.”
As a Chubbuck resident, it was not Mayor England or our city council that shut down our businesses last year. It was not our state legislature who shut down businesses either. After he was criticized by Rachel Maddow in March of last year, Gov. Little shut down any business he did not deem essential. Gov. Little did not consult with our legislature or even call them into session. If this is not an abuse of power, I do not know what is. Let’s also not forget that, earlier this year, Gov. Little vetoed a bill that would have limited the power of the governor and required the legislature be consulted for a similar emergency to the one we have had for the past 15 months.
Gov. Little is correct when he mentioned that Idahoans prefer laws to be made at the level closest to them. This is a concept for which conservative Nobel Prize winning Economist Milton Freidman advocated. However, Idahoans value individual rights above all else. The state has recognized this in many ways. One way that is important to me is when it comes to gun laws. Idaho has state preemption of local gun laws. This prohibits places like Sun Valley from enacting California style gun laws.
For months, many Idahoans lived in places with mask mandates that were enacted by unelected health boards. Gov. Little defended this several times and indicated these were legal mandates. Elected officials in places like Bonneville County, Lemhi County, and Madison County never voted for a mask mandate; unelected health boards did. Unelected health board are hardly “closer to the people” as they are not accountable to the people.
Gov. Little’s statement that this executive order was “not gubernatorial” is ironic considering he was at a conference of Republican governors. Of the five largest states with a Republican governor, four of the five governors have issued executive orders similar to the one issued by Lt. Gov. McGeachin.
Gov. Little also mentioned that this executive order is similar to one that was debated in the legislature earlier this year. What Gov. Little failed to mention is that the Idaho Senate chose not to hold a vote on the bill. It smells like there was backroom politics between Gov. Little and the leaders in the Senate.
Let me be clear that Covid-19 is real and is dangerous for many people. I had Covid-19 and it was miserable. I have friends and family that have died and/or been hospitalized from Covid-19. People that are at a higher risk should make a personal decision to mitigate their risk of contracting the virus. In a free society, however, the government should not be mandating this.
Gov. Little does not want laws to be made “closer to the people.” Gov. Little wants all the power to himself!