Commissioners, Not Health Boards, Should Have Final Say On Restrictions, Says Idaho Senator

Feb 23, 2021

Sen. Steve Vick [R-Coeur d'Alene] believes county commissioners, not county health boards, should have the final say about local public health restrictions.
Credit Idaho Public TV screenshot

An Idaho Senate committee said yes Tuesday to a bill that gives final authority over countywide public health orders to county commissioners.

Sen. Steve Vick [R-Coeur d'Alene] says a board of health vote to declare a mask mandate or other health-related restriction would have to pass one more hurdle before being enacted.

“If it applies to everybody in the county, every restaurant in the county, every bar in the county, every establishment in the county, every person in the county, any order that applies that way, would need to be approved by the county commissioners before it went into effect. These people are elected and they should make that final decision on these types of orders," he said.

Vick spoke Tuesday morning before the House State Affairs Committee, which unanimously approved it. It now goes to the full House. The Senate has already given its unanimous consent.

If a county commission does sign off on an order, Vick’s bill specifies that it’s valid for 30 days, at which time the commission would have to reconsider it.

In the case of the Panhandle Health District, with authority over five counties, each county commission would be required to act.

The bill also downgrades the penalty for those who disobey a countywide public health order from misdemeanor to infraction, meaning the fine would decrease from $300 to $50.