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Idaho Legislature 'Pauses' For Two Weeks; Six House Members Have Covid

Screenshot from Idaho Public Television

Six Idaho legislators have tested positive for the coronavirus and, as a result, the legislature is taking a two-week break. House Speaker Scott Bedke broke the news today.

“I’m not all that surprised," he said. "We knew it was a possibility and we planned for it as best we could. It would have been nice if we could have finished completely, but we didn’t. We will come back and finish the job.”The session was due to end on March 26. Now lawmakers will take a break and reconvene in Boise on April 6.

He says the break may be a blessing in disguise. The House and Senate were undecided about how to proceed on several issues, including a proposed property tax cut and a transportation funding package. He says this will also give them more time to work out some of the short-term decisions about how to spend federal Covid relief money. Bedke told reporters he thinks lawmakers will need two more weeks to finish their work.

In addition to the legislators, Bedke says at least one staff member at the Capitol also has the virus. He said the contact tracing continues for that person.

“I have no regrets on the way we conducted the safety protocols to this point. We were doing pretty good here until and through the tracing. This latest round did not come from inside the building. We all could have been a little more careful. I’m not saying we did everything perfectly, but we did it pretty well," he said.

Bedke hasn’t mandated that legislators wear masks and won’t when they return, though he hopes some will take the virus more seriously when they come back.