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Idaho lawmakers target COVID-19 rules even as they get sick

A fifth member of the Idaho House of Representatives has tested positive for the coronavirus.

BOISE, Idaho — Two more lawmakers in the Idaho House of Representatives tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.

Five representatives have tested positive for the virus in less than a week's time. The latest positive test comes just as the Legislature is debating a bill that would ban local governments from requiring that people wear masks. 

Rep. Julie Yamamoto of Caldwell says she tested positive Wednesday afternoon and immediately left the Statehouse.

On Thursday evening, the Idaho Democrats announced that Rep. James Ruchti (D-Pocatello) tested positive for the virus. They received the positive test results at about 6 p.m. Thursday and have notified everyone he was in close contact with about the results.

The increasing number of lawmakers out sick with the coronavirus has legislative leaders in the conservative state worried they may not be able to finish business in a timely fashion. 

A major goal of GOP lawmakers this session has been curbing the emergency powers of the Republican governor to respond to things like pandemics. 

Legislators have floated several proposals that would restrict Gov. Brad Little's ability to make sweeping directives in the future.

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