BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho House voted down a motion to allow some members to work from home during the state's legislative session.
The request was rejected Friday in a House vote 49-11, with 10 lawmakers absent.
Democratic Rep. Marianne "Muffy" Davis, Ketchum, made the motion on the basis of allowing individuals to work from home who have physical impairments and increased risk of COVID-19 complications. The motion would have allowed members to participate in the session remotely as long as they were within Boise city limits.
Davis, a paraplegic after a skiing accident, is at increased risk of severe illness or death from the coronavirus.
“I am incredibly saddened by the lack of compassion by the lack of empathy shown by my Republican colleagues,” Davis said in a statement after the vote. “COVID-19 is a serious threat to my health. … I want to do this job and work safely, just as many healthy state employees and private businesses already do. But those across the aisle don’t seem to recognize that. A person’s health and welfare shouldn’t be partisan, and yet, here we are.”
In a statement, House Speaker Scott Bedke said leadership is looking into options to meet safety protocols within existing guidelines.
“The safety of all members of the House of Representatives, staff, and the public in the Statehouse continues to be my top priority. House Leadership has looked at all viable options and has worked to meet safety protocols within our existing rules and continues to look for ways to improve,” said Speaker of the House Scott Bedke. “I will continue to work in good faith toward an even safer and more productive environment for all members."
The motion comes a week after Davis and Rep. Sue Chew filed a lawsuit against the Idaho Legislature and Bedke, claiming the Statehouse is unsafe for those with chronic health conditions.