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Idaho Legislature to recess until April 6 due to increasing COVID-19 cases among lawmakers

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Posted at 8:57 AM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 10:54:00-04

BOISE, Idaho — Due to an increase in coronavirus cases in the House, the Idaho Legislature is going on a two-week recess.

Both the House and the Senate approved to go on recess until April 6. The Senate is still doing some business on Friday, but will officially go on recess when it is done.

According to our media partner Idaho Education News, six House members have tested positive for COVID-19: House Education Committee Chairman Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls; House Education Vice Chairman Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth; Julie Yamamoto, a Caldwell Republican and House Education member; Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa; Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell; and James Ruchti, D-Pocatello.

According to the Associated Press, three of the infected lawmakers participated in debates on the House floor this week. Two senators contracted the virus but have recovered and returned to the Senate.

“We hope our colleagues are able to heal quickly and return, so we can finish the session. But we can’t help but be disappointed in how bad things have become at the Capitol, when we could’ve prevented this from becoming a hot spot all along,” said Ilana Rubel and Sen. Michelle Stennett in a joint statement. “We are just so sorry it took so many people getting sick for us to act. We must do better when we return, or else we’ll keep finding ourselves in this position.”

"We are saddened to hear about the increase in cases in the House. The Senate has always understood the seriousness of COVID-19, but we respect the oath and obligation we have to do the important work of the state, and while mindful of the risks to us personally, we remain focused on the work ahead," said Senate Majority Leader Kelly Anthon. "We are committed to finishing the people's business but also respectfully support our House colleague's request. We will also make sure this legislative pause is done in a way to prevent unnecessary expenditure of taxpayer dollars."

The Senate was expected to gavel in at 9:30 a.m. but waited until after the House made its decision just after 10:30 a.m. The Associated Press reports there is significant unfinished business, including setting budgets and a huge income tax cut, as well as transportation funding.