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Mask mandate prohibition bill passes Idaho House; moves to Senate

Posted at 1:26 PM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 09:40:23-04

BOISE, Idaho — An amended bill, HB 339aa, which looks to add a new section to Idaho code to prohibit mask mandates in the state, passed the Idaho House Wednesday morning with a 46 – 23 vote.

State lawmakers debated on the House floor for around 30 minutes regarding the bill. Bill sponsor Rep. Karey Hanks (R-St. Anthony) opened the debate with a statement about how rape victims or sexual assault survivors may struggle with wearing a mask due to past trauma.

Rep. Karey Hanks

“Putting on that mask just brings up the trauma again,” Hanks said. “I don’t want to debate the research really; I just want you to consider the real trauma, the real violation of a person to not ask, but require them to wear a mask.”

Rep. Greg Chaney (R) pointed out flaws in the bill for state workers and stated it is common practice for some workers or people with contagious diseases to wear a mask or PPE in order to protect themselves and public safety.

“Ladies in my life who have experienced things that caused me to bristle at comparing a mask mandate to a sexual assault,” Chaney said.

Rep. Greg Chaney

“You know, we do have requirements for wearing clothing. Such as, men have to wear ties here in this body. I wanted to stay away from getting into the argument about the constitutional right not to wear a mark or to wear a mask, but there are times when this needs to happen in order to protect everybody else from the condition you may have,”
Rep. John Gannon (D)

Rep. Dorothy Moon (R) stated opposition to any mask mandate and criticized the city of McCall, which just recently extended the area’s mask mandate.

“When I see that McCall just extended their masking until May 26, which is a recreational type of community, a lot of the businesses are suffering are going to suffer for another couple of months. They don't want this mask mandate to continue, but of course, the excuse that they're using is that all of these folks coming in for recreation are going to be, you know, vectors spreading COVID, which to me has pretty much been dropped or leveled in the numbers to where the pandemic doesn't exist in the state,” Rep. Dorothy Moon (R).

Idaho recently reached 2,000 deaths across the state and Idaho’s case fatality rate is near 1.09%. COVID-19 cases still range between 200 - 300 cases per day and the state total is 183,910 cases.