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House votes in favor of lifting Little's restrictions on gatherings

Posted at 4:27 PM, Jan 25, 2021

BOISE — Another effort to revoke some of Gov. Brad Little's emergency orders for COVID-19, specifically on the number of people who can attend gatherings, was debated on the house floor today.

The proposal HCR 2, brought forward by Rep. Brent Crane (R) of Nampa and Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R) of Idaho Falls looks to eliminate all gathering size restrictions statewide Little has implemented in his COVID-19 public safety plan.

If the proposed HCR 2 resolution passes in the Senate, it will void Little's emergency order that limits gatherings greater than 10 people in Idaho.

Last week, Little and the State Board of Education did relax some of the crowd restrictions on watching school sports, going from two spectators per athlete to four, or 40% capacity inside the facility where the game is held.

Rep. Ehardt told the house this morning that while most of the focus for HCR 2 is on sports and attendance of youth school sports games, the impact of the restrictions is much larger.

"Our businesses are suffering. Our neighbors are suffering," Ehardt said. "Simple gatherings include more than ten people. It may be awards banquets. It may be recognition ceremonies for who knows what is unable to happen, but as much as anything, businesses are suffering. They want the reprieve that they've been waiting for us as legislators to gather back together to help to give them."

Rep. Crane was also in agreement and told the house, his concern was a restriction on the First Amendment right to assemble peacefully.

"Based on the decision by the state board, we now got 40% of our constitutional right to assemble back together," Crane said. "The right to assemble, to peacefully assemble whether it is for worship, whether its to readdress your government is a guaranteed right irrespective of the fact whether we are in an emergency situation or not and that's what concerns me about this."

This morning, the resolution passed on a 55-15 vote. Now the measure will move over to the statehouse's senate side.