Rep. Barbara Ehardt speaks to the Idaho House of Representatives on the proposed resolution to nullify limits to gatherings in response to COVID-19. | Screenshot
BOISE — A resolution to quash limits on gatherings in response to COVID-19 will now go to the Senate after the House of Representatives voted to pass it.
The resolution passed 55-15, with three of the no votes coming from Republicans.
Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, and Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, proposed the resolution. If passed in the Senate, the resolution would nullify the Dec. 30 emergency order prohibiting gatherings greater than 10 people in Idaho.
Gov. Brad Little established the order with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare as part of the Idaho Rebounds plan designed to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Ehardt told the house while the talks of resolution have focused heavily on sports, the legislation impacts “so much more.”
“One of the casualties of COVID is common sense.”
Little has allowed more than 10 people inside sporting events across the state. Last week he upped the number to 40% of the gym’s capacity or four people per participant, whichever is greater. The way Little’s and the IDHW order is written still prohibits many gatherings greater than 10 people.
“One of the casualties of COVID is common sense,” Crane said.
He said it’s hard to understand how so many people can go to the grocery store and church, but more people can’t attend sporting events. Crane said such restrictions infringe upon Idahoans’ First Amendment rights.
Idaho law allows an emergency order like this one to be nullified through a resolution by the Legislature. Resolutions must be passed by both the House and Senate but do not need governor approval. The process for the Legislature to nullify the order is written into the same law Little used to pass the emergency order.
John McCrostie, D-Garden City, said there are creative ways to reach the solution people want “in a manner that is safe.” He said broadcast and virtual meetings are among such creative ways.
You can view the latest on the 2021 Idaho Legislative Session and other political news here.