BOISE, Idaho — Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin, as acting Governor, announced on Twitter she signed an executive order banning mask mandates in government entities. The order is effective starting at 11 a.m. on May 27.
The Executive Order says the remaining mask mandates issued by health districts, public schools, school districts and political subdivisions fail to serve a public health or safety purpose.
Today, as acting Governor of the State of Idaho, I signed an Executive Order to protect the rights and liberties of individuals and businesses by prohibiting the state and its political subdivisions — including public schools — from imposing mask mandates in our state. #idpol pic.twitter.com/Nmb6DX9v6X— Janice McGeachin (@JaniceMcGeachin) May 27, 2021
According to Gov. Little's Office, Little is in Nashville for the Republican Governor's Association Conference. He will be back at 9 p.m. Thursday. According to his office, Little was not made aware of the executive order ahead of time.
The Governor's Office is reviewing the executive order and an expanded statement will be made available after a more thorough review of this executive action, according to Little's press secretary.
McGeachin is holding her first task force meeting that will examine indoctrination in Idaho education. McGeachin also announced this month that she is running for Governor.
In a memo sent out to staff and district families, West Ada School District released the following statement:
Earlier today, Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin issued an executive order prohibiting mask mandates by the state and its political subdivisions, including public schools. It is not the practice of West Ada School District to change operations in the middle of the school day; therefore, masks will remain in place through today.
We are consulting legal counsel regarding the School Boards’ statutory authority under Idaho Code 33-512 to enforce certain health and safety protocols.
But is this constitutional?
"It appears so under the Idaho Constitution, the lieutenant governor when they become Acting Governor, it also includes all of the rights the duties of the governor and emoluments, i.e. perhaps for that temporary amount of time the governor's pay," said Shaakirrah Sanders, a constitutional expert and professor of Law at the University of Idaho.
There are a few different things that could happen next.
"Well, one thing that could happen is that the governor comes back to the state. And then pretty much automatically the Lieutenant Governor is no longer Acting Governor. And then if the Governor wants to rescind that executive order for whatever reason the Governor may do. So, The other thing that could happen is that some entity who's subject to the executive order could choose to bring a lawsuit," she said. "That could be a pretty tricky proposition, considering the fact that the Governor is pretty much expected back today, and could very well sort of null and void the executive order and render any case moot, but those would be the two options."
Idaho News 6 will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.