BOI E, Idaho (AP) – The Idaho Legislature on Friday voted to suspend work for several weeks due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
House and Senate lawmakers made an unprecedented move with significant unfinished business, including budget cuts and huge income tax cuts.
At least five of the House’s 70 members have been positive about the disease over the past week, and there are fears that the highly contagious version of COVID-19 is in the State House.
Four of those positively assessed are Republicans and one is a Democrat. Another Republican legislator is isolating himself. The House has a 58-majority Republican majority, most of whom rarely or never wear masks. All Democratic lawmakers usually wear masks.
The three lawmakers who had a positive experience this week, two Republicans and one Democrat, all took part in debates under the House floor.
Two senators became contracted with COVID-19, but were reinstated and returned to the 35-member Senate.
The main purpose of the GOP legislators in this session of the legislature is to curb the extraordinary powers of the Republican governor to respond to such things as epidemics. Lawmakers have introduced a number of proposals that would limit the ability of Gov. Brad Little to adopt sweeping instructions in the future.
The chamber also introduced a bill banning local governments from requiring people to wear masks. Little, who wears a mask in front of the public and urges others to do so, has never been given a state mask, but several districts, about a dozen cities, currently have such orders.
Some 175,000 Idaho residents became infected with the coronavirus, and more than 1,900 died. But about 200,000 people received two shots of the two-shot vaccine, and another 125,000 received the first shot. About 1.8 million people live in the state