Keith Riddler Associated Press
Boise, Idaho — The Idaho State Capitol resolved on Friday to close for several weeks due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate have been adjourned until April 6 for important unfinished projects, such as budgeting and promoting significant income tax cuts.
Last week, at least six of the 70 house members tested positive for the disease, and there are concerns that a highly contagious variant of COVID-19 may be in the State Capitol.
“House has undergone some positive tests, so it’s probably wise for the house to retreat for a few weeks until things settle down and it’s not hot around here because of COVID,” said house majority leader Mike Moyle before the vote. Said to.
Five positives are Republicans and one is Democrat. Another Republican is self-quarantining. The Chamber of Commerce has a majority of 58 Republicans, most of whom rarely or never wear masks. All Democrats usually wear masks.
Three lawmakers, two Republicans and one Democrat who tested positive this week were all involved in the housefloor debate.
The House of Representatives, where the disease is widespread, also demanded a Senate adjournment. Two senators were infected with COVID-19, but recovered and returned to 35 senators.
The Senate respected the House’s request and resolved to adjourn about an hour after the House of Representatives, which Republican Senate President pro tempore Chuck Winder called “a rare kind of historic request made by us.” ..
Kelly Anthon, the majority leader of the Republican Senate, said Senators could spend their time preparing for a reconvene of the Senate. “This time we’ll use it productively for the people of Aidaho so we’ll be ready to work when we come back together on April 6th,” he said.
Republican Chair Scott Bedke may have a good delay after voting, as the legislature can give time to understand how to spend the $ 2.2 billion received in the latest federal coronavirus bailout. Said.
Republican leaders in the House and Senate control both chambers, but did not impose mask obligations on this session.
“Maybe when they come back, I think it’s probably different,” Bedoke said. “But so far, I have no regrets about the security protocol.”
Parliamentarians are paid a daily allowance to cover regular session-related living expenses during breaks, and secretaries and attachés are also paid during breaks. Bedke characterized it as an essentially long weekend that many use to catch up with paperwork and other businesses.
The main goal of GOP members in parliament for this session was to curb the Republican Governor’s urgent powers to respond to pandemics and the like. Lawmakers have highlighted some suggestions that would limit Governor Brad Little’s ability to issue drastic directives in the future.
The House of Representatives is also pushing for a bill banning local governments from requiring people to wear masks. Little, who wears masks in public and encourages others to do so, has never issued a state-wide mask mandate, but there are now such orders in a few counties and about 12 cities. It has been issued.
In a joint statement, Democratic Rep. Ilana Rubel and Democratic Senate minority leader Michelle Stennett said they wanted their colleagues to be ill with COVID-19. , When I was able to prevent this from becoming a hotspot all the time, “they said. “It’s a shame that so many people got sick for us to act. We have to do better when we come back, or we’ll be in this position. “
In addition to the eight lawmakers known to have been infected with COVID-19, a small number of members of the House and Senate were also known to have been infected with the virus during this session.
During the recess, lawmakers are expected to return to all parts of the state and spread viral variants.
Dr. David Peterman, a pediatrician and CEO of the primary health medical group, said Thursday that 30% to 40% of positive tests at health group facilities in southwestern Idaho were atypical.
About 175,000 people in Idaho were infected with the coronavirus, killing more than 1,900. However, about 200,000 residents received both shots of the two-shot vaccine, and an additional 125,000 received the first shot. About 1.8 million people live in the state.
Associated Press reporter Rebecca Boone contributed to this report.
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