BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Lawmakers amended a bill that would ban the state, public health departments, and even school districts from requiring masks to add a penalty on Friday.
The amendment in the Idaho House means the legislation now says that if a political subdivision enacts a mask mandate, any public health order or emergency declaration that the entity is operating under will be terminated.
The legislation sponsored by Rep. Karey Hanks, a Republican from St. Anthony, is one of several bills targeting coronavirus restrictions from lawmakers upset over measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 during the coronavirus pandemic.
Health experts have consistently said that wearing masks slows the spread of coronavirus, and some school districts, cities, and public health districts have issued mask orders at times during the pandemic. Idaho Gov. Brad Little has never issued a statewide mask mandate, though he’s encouraged residents to wear them.
Under the bill, schools and universities wouldn’t be able to require masks on campus. Private businesses could still require masks if the bill is eventually approved. The legislation still must go through the Senate.
Officials report that the coronavirus has infected more than 180,000 Idaho residents and killed nearly 2,000.