BOISE, Idaho — Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin issued an executive order Tuesday banning vaccine mandates and mandatory testing in Idaho. Gov. Brad Little issued an executive order Wednesday from Texas, according to the Associated Press.
Little said on Facebook Tuesday he is performing his duty as the elected Governor of Idaho and did not authorize McGeachin to act on his behalf. McGeachin is the acting governor when Little is out of the state.
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! #idpol pic.twitter.com/Jz87jfZaWc— Janice McGeachin (@JaniceMcGeachin) October 5, 2021
Little issued a previous executive order that banned so-called "vaccine passports." McGeachin's order added K-12 schools and universities cannot require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test from people accessing public services.
Former Governor Butch Otter emailed the following statement about McGeachin's actions on Tuesday:
"One of the most significant duties of a Governor is to serve as Commander in Chief of the Idaho National Guard. Decisions about deploying our brave men and women of the Guard must be considered with great weight and never with self-gain at the forefront. The Lt. Governor's failed attempt to deploy the Idaho National Guard to the southern border while Governor Little is out of state performing his duties as Governor reveals her ignorance of the process and her true intentions - she seeks only to advance her personal political agenda, even if it means putting the safety of our Guardsmen on the line and burdening their families while they are deployed. This is not the way a Governor acts. I attended the funerals of many of our warfighters and saw the grief in their families' faces. The Lt. Governor belittles and demeans their sacrifice by playing political games with the men and women of the Idaho National Guard and their families. It is shameful and unacceptable."
Idaho News 6 reached out to McGeachin's office but did not hear back. In an interview with The Nate Shelman Show on 670 KBOI, she stated, “What this executive order does is it allows parents of a child in school to be able to rest in peace tonight knowing that their kids are not going to be forced to be vaccinated and that the mandatory testing is also removed from the governor's prior executive order.”
Earlier Tuesday, McGeachin tried to activate Idaho National Guard troops to the border. The Associated Press reports Major General Michael J. Garshak said in a letter to McGeachin a call for help from border states earlier this year involved law enforcement, not National Guard troops.
The commanding general of the Idaho National Guard told Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin she can’t activate troops to send to the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the AP.
"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," said Little in a Facebook post. "The crisis at the border is something I take very seriously. That is why this summer I worked closely with the states of Arizona and Texas to determine the most impactful way to support their mission, and I sent a specialized team of Idaho State Police troopers to support drug interdiction efforts at the border."
Speaker of the House Scott Bedke released a statement saying in part "what comes next will be determined soon by the Legislative Branch and not be left to the Lt. Governor to dictate.”
McGeachin's office did not respond to a request for comment by the Associated Press. As we've previously reported, McGeachin and Little have been open critics of one another, despite being in the same party.
Back in May, McGeachin issued an executive order while the governor was out of state, banning mask mandates of any kind in the state. Little never issued a statewide mask mandate and did roll back McGeachin's order, saying decision-making on COVID-19 mitigation was best left to local governments.