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Idaho Legislature votes to halt session after multiple lawmakers infected with COVID-19

At least half a dozen legislators are currently positive for the virus.

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Legislature voted Friday to hit pause on the 2021 session after multiple lawmakers became infected with COVID-19. 

The motion to halt the session until noon on April 6, 2021 passed both the House and the Senate with a unanimous vote.

At least half a dozen lawmakers are currently positive for the virus.

Rep. Julie Yamamoto, R-Caldwell, Rep. Bruce Skaug, R-Nampa, Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, Rep. Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth, Rep. Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell and Rep. James Ruchti, D-Pocatello, have all said they were infected.

Two Republican senators, Steve Baie and Van Burtenshaw, along with three House staffers and one Senate attaché, were previously out with COVID-19, but have since returned.

Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, said during discussion of the decision to halt the session until after Easter that the Legislature has paused and come back before. In the year 2000, the Idaho Legislature opted to recess for ten days following the death of Senate Pro Tem Jerry Twiggs.

"We'll use the time wisely, and I'll encourage each of you to continue the dialogue with your colleagues, work on the issues during this time period, so when we come back we are ready to go, and get the people's work done as quickly as possible," Winder said.

Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, said he hoped he and his fellow lawmakers are able to return safely on April 6 to take care of the remaining bills.

"I'm sure I can say this on behalf of all of us, that we wish our colleagues in the House who are ill with COVID a speedy recovery," he said.

Rep. Brooke Green, a member of the appropriations committee, wrote on Twitter that a JFAC hearing had been canceled Friday morning before the vote.

Speaker of the House Scott Bedke said earlier this week that he was concerned the Legislature would not be able to wrap up business by the goal end date of March 26 if more lawmakers get sick. He asked House members to take precautions against spreading or becoming infected with COVID-19.

Bedke told KTVB a press conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday.

Check back for updates.


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