In this September 15, 2021 file photo, Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin at a rally on the steps of the statehouse in Boise, Idaho.

AP Photo / Keith Ridler

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Andrea Edel

Political battles over the coronavirus vaccine have become the norm, but in Idaho a battle between the state’s two leaders escalated with an odd twist this week.

Hours after the Idaho governor left the state on business the lieutenant governor signed an ordinance banning the state’s schools and universities from requesting vaccines or Covid-19 tests. Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin alleged she had “corrected” the governor’s previous order prohibiting government agencies from requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccination for citizens to get public services or access to facilities.

Governor Brad Little said he would revoke the lieutenant governor’s order once he returns to Idaho from a trip to the US-Mexico border. But McGeachin’s actions, which included an unsuccessful attempt to station the National Guard on the border, have been reprimanded by other Republican lawmakers in the state.

“Although Lt. Governor plays an important role as President of the Senate and follows the instructions of the governor, her actions today are precisely the kind of abuse that Idaho and the Idaho people do not represent, “said Scott Bedke, spokesman for the Idaho House of Representatives. in a statement. “This is a complete grandstand and an abuse of your political office to influence voters.” McGeachin criticized Little’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and previously announced her intention to run for governor next year. Little has not yet announced whether he will run for re-election.

This is the second time she has used Idaho law to undermine the governor’s policies. According to the Idaho Constitution, the lieutenant governor takes control of “the powers, duties and remuneration” of the governorship when the governor leaves the state.

In May, McGeachin issued an executive order banning face masks in schools and public buildings when Little left to attend a Republican Governors Association conference. Little canceled that order when he returned.

Little left the state Tuesday to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border to meet with fellow Republican governors to discuss border security and immigration issues. The governors released a number of policy proposals on Wednesday aimed at addressing the migrant crisis at the border.

“I am in Texas performing my duties as the duly elected governor of Idaho and I have not authorized the lieutenant governor to act on my behalf, ”Little said in a statement. “I will undo and undo all actions taken by the lieutenant governor when I return.”

A spokeswoman for Little did not respond to a request for comment on any further action the governor might take.

During the Constitution of Idaho gives authority to the lieutenant governor in the absence of the governor, the legitimacy of McGeachin’s order is questionable.

Legislators have asked the Idaho Attorney General to consider whether McGeachin’s May order is legal. Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane wrote in a legal memo that the order is likely unconstitutional because it essentially sought to create a new law and encroached upon the legislature’s legislative powers
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