National news was made on May 27 when Idaho’s Governor Brad Little was out of state. Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin (pronounced McGEE-in), while serving as acting governor, signed an executive order terminating mask mandates by government entities in Idaho. The next day, Governor Little returned to Idaho and issued an executive order cancelling McGeachin’s executive order, stating local control was best, and calling McGeachin’s order “an irresponsible, self-serving political stunt.” (McGeachin has announced she is challenging Little for the Governor’s seat.)
But was it a political stunt? One state representative says McGeachin’s executive order was much needed because it has been Governor Little who has been non-responsive to requests from both the legislature and the citizens of Idaho.
Representative Tammy Nichols, (R-Dist.11) told UncoverDC that ever since mask mandates were put in place in Idaho’s schools, parents have been requesting the measures be removed. “At first they went to the teachers, who referred parents to school principals. School principals cited rules put in place by school districts. So, parents went to the school districts, but the school boards refused to budge, despite the evidence.”
What evidence? A meta-analysis of all the peer-reviewed, randomized trials studying mask use in preventing viral transfer between individuals in which verifiable outcomes were measured shows that no statistical difference exists between mask wearers and non-mask wearers in passing along a viral illness.
Additionally, it has been learned that children under 18 are highly unlikely to catch and transmit Covid-19. In a presentation at Idaho’s state capitol on March 18, Dr. Ryan Cole, founder and CEO of Cole Diagnostics in Garden City, ID, which conducted much of the Covid testing in Idaho, cited extensive research on Covid in children. Cole said:
“The world-famous CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy) at the University of Minnesota looked at studies from North Carolina—a very big study—a study from Sweden, and a study from Norway. They concluded … ‘Children, especially aged 0-10, are not a significant factor in the spread of Covid-19.’ That was a five-country study published in the world-famous journal, The Lancet.”
“Now that we can do a retrospective analysis, we know that children and young people remain at a low risk for Covid mortality,” Cole said. “Out of the 74,000,000 children in the United States aged 0-18, there have 226 deaths this year (as of March 17, 2021).”
Cole also quoted from the Journal of the American Medical Association which published a study of 2482 children. The study said, “It is unlikely that children have boosted the pandemic.” Cole added, “Therefore, in a classroom, it is not very likely that Covid will spread child-to-child, and it’s far less likely that it will spread from child-to-teacher. It would generally be the other way around.”
No Redress of Grievances
Still, school boards kept their mask mandates in place, so parents started contacting their legislators. Nichols said she was contacted by many parents, which led her to work with parents within their districts as well as addressing the districts herself.
With no response to grievances at the local level, state representatives in Idaho’s legislature decided to act. They passed a bill to remove mask mandates. This was not a bill to make masks illegal, simply to make it illegal to mandate masks in certain situations. An Op-Ed published at True Idaho News outlined the events. “On April 14, Idaho’s House passed HB 339 with a better than 2:1 margin (47-22). If enacted, the bill would prohibit mask mandates in the State of Idaho.”
But that bill died in Idaho’s senate. The Op-Ed continued, “On April 19, the bill was delivered to the Senate where the gentleman from District 15 [Senator Fred Martin] promptly filed it in his desk drawer to let it die.”
Martin (R-Dist.15) chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. Even with several weeks left to go in Idaho’s legislative session, Martin refused to consider the legislation saying, “We shut down the committee several weeks ago, so we are not hearing any additional bills.”
It should be noted that Martin is also part of the “Flip-Flop Five,” a group of five senators who initially voted for Senate Bill 1136, which would have prevented any Idaho Governor from altering, adjusting, or suspending any provision of Idaho Code during a state of emergency. SB1136 had passed the Senate with a veto-proof majority, but Martin was one of five senators who “flip-flopped” after the governor’s veto and agreed to let the Executive branch exercise Legislative authority—a clear violation of separation of powers.
With the legislative session coming to an end, Representative Nichols sought to bring an end to mask mandates by asking Governor Little to draft an executive order. She wrote Little a letter on May 5, addressing the overbearing actions of local governing entities. Here is her letter, in total:
“Thank you for not issuing an executive order requiring a statewide mask mandate. Idaho has been in an unnecessary state of emergency for 13 months in which Idaho’s local governments engaged in an unparalleled abuse of power and an unrivalled suspension of individual liberty never seen before in our great state.”
“However, one political subdivision of our state continues to engage in cruel, oppressive, and misguided local policymaking: Idaho’s schoolboards. As I write this letter, Idaho’s schoolchildren are still being forced under the threat of punishment to wear facemasks at nearly all times. This cruel government action must cease.”
“You issued an Executive Order regarding the banning of vaccine passports in April of 2021. I strongly urge you to now issue an Executive Order to immediately suspend all mask mandates in Idaho’s schools. Students and their parents want and should have the choice of whether to wear a mask or not—not government. Thank you for consideration and your service to the state and people of Idaho.”
Nichols sent the above letter to Little via email. She also posted it on her Facebook page and tagged the Governor on the post. She even printed a copy of the letter and taped it to his office door in the State Capitol.
One must wonder if Little was hanging out inside a silo because Little did not respond to any of Representative Nichols’ attempts to reach him. In fact, nobody from the governor’s staff responded to Nichols’ letter in any way.
Redress of Grievance and Offers to Help Ignored
To review, the people of Idaho sought a redress of grievances at the local level. When that did not happen, they sought a redress of grievances by contacting their representatives, who tried to pass appropriate legislation, but were thwarted by a senator whose actions suggest he does the bidding of Governor Little. A legislator then tried to get Little to address the people’s grievances through an Executive Order, but Little and his staff completely ignored the request.
From the start of the Covid situation, Governor Little left Lt. Governor McGeachin out of decisions affecting Idahoans, and even ignored her offers to help in critical functions.
When Little unilaterally declared some businesses and individuals non-essential (without seeking input from local governments), calls to the state’s unemployment line overwhelmed the system. The governor hired an out-of-state company to help (and that action may have been illegal), but even with the extra help, people were still waiting months to get financial aid. McGeachin reached out to Little, offering to identify and clear up the bottlenecks so Idahoans could get faster relief, but Little never responded to her offer.
Many news organizations report that McGeachin broke with Little over his handling of Covid, but the truth is she did so only after he cut out key leaders in the legislature and other key positions from his decision-making and also violated both the Idaho and the United States Constitution.
McGeachin Issues an Executive Order
The Idaho Constitution is clear that when a sitting governor is out of state, the Lt. Governor becomes the acting governor and has the full authority of the governor.
McGeachin had seen the Idaho senate shelve a bill that would have addressed the people’s concerns about masks. She also learned that Governor Little ignored a formal request by a State Representative to issue an executive order to remove mask mandates. She had also observed other governors issue Executive Orders terminating mask mandates in their states. And so, McGeachin used her time as Acting Governor to issue the requested executive order.
After Little rescinded her order, UncoverDC reached out to Representative Nichols, who provided the following statement:
“The people of Idaho are desperately seeking leadership and action addressing their grievances with their local and state government regarding health freedom. Some in local government seem to be selective or non-responsive in hearing the voice of the people, and legislative efforts have hit several roadblocks trying to help in this area.”
“Executive orders by the governor last year left people in limbo. The inactivity of the Executive branch to address these matters has left the people in a desperate situation still seeking help under oppression. I and numerous Idahoans appreciate the Lt. Governor taking an active leadership role done within the bounds of the Idaho Constitution to bring relief and free the people and children of Idaho by allowing them to breathe freely and make health decisions that are best for them.”
“It is very unfortunate that her order was not allowed to stay but instead rescinded by the governor, which once again places the people in a situation of pleading for help.”
And so, Idaho’s Governor continues to ignore the pleas of the people of Idaho. They have been seeking a redress of grievances at both state and local levels, but have been ignored every step of the way.
In his comments to Lt. Governor McGeachin after rescinding her order, Little chided her, saying, “Let me offer some advice as Idaho’s duly elected Governor—governing in a silo is NOT governing.” Based on Little’s own actions and inactions, the irony of his statement should ring loud and clear.
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