Idaho's lieutenant governor issues vaccine executive order while gov is away; Little says he will rescind it

5October 2021

Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin on Tuesday issued an executive order banning vaccine mandates and required coronavirus testing in schools and colleges in the state, prompting Gov. Brad Little to say he had not authorized her to act on his behalf while he was at the U.S-Mexico border. 

Little said he would “rescind” any executive orders McGeachin issues while he is away and she is acting governor, including her attempt this week to send National Guard troops to the border. 

“I am in Texas performing my duties as the duly elected Governor of Idaho, and I have not authorized the Lt. Governor to act on my behalf,” Little said in a statement on Tuesday. “I will be rescinding and reversing any actions taken by the Lt. Governor when I return.” He is expected back in the state on Wednesday. 

In Idaho, the governor and lieutenant governor don’t run on the same ticket and McGeachin and Little have previously butted heads. She is also running for governor in 2022

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In May when Little was out of state, she issued an executive order banning mask mandates that Little eliminated when he returned, saying those decisions were best left to local officials. 

Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin of Idaho addresses a rally on the Statehouse steps in Boise, Sept. 15, 2021. 

Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin of Idaho addresses a rally on the Statehouse steps in Boise, Sept. 15, 2021. 
(Associated Press)

The new executive order also prevents employers from requiring their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and is an extension of one Little issued in April that banned mandates at state facilities not including schools, according to the Idaho Statesman. 

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McGeachin said she had “fixed” the order. “I will continue to fight for your individual liberty!” she tweeted. 

Maj. Gen. Michael J. Garshak, the commanding general of the Idaho National Guard, also said that as acting governor McGeachin doesn’t have the authority to send the National Guard to the border. 

Idaho Gov. Brad Little at a March 2020 news conference. 

Idaho Gov. Brad Little at a March 2020 news conference. 
(Getty Images)

McGeachin disputed that claim, writing to Garshak on Tuesday, “My constitutional authority as Governor affords me the power of activating the Idaho National Guard. As the Adjutant General, I am requesting information from you on the steps needed for the Governor to activate the National Guard.”

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Garshak replied hours later, “I am unaware of any request for Idaho National Guard assistance under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) from Texas or Arizona. As you are aware, the Idaho National Guard is not a law enforcement agency.”

Little was in Texas this week meeting with other nine other Republican governors to discuss the crisis at the border. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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