Idaho lawmakers sue House speaker over virus concerns

Two Democratic Idaho state lawmakers have filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Legislature and the Republican speaker of the House contending the Statehouse is unsafe for them and others with chronic health conditions because coronavirus precautions are being ignored.

Reps. Sue Chew, of Boise, and Muffy Davis, of Ketchum, filed the lawsuit asking a judge to order House Speaker Scott Bedke to allow lawmakers to participate remotely and provide other work accommodations.

Chew and Davis said Bedke has refused to follow recommendations set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as guidelines from Republican Gov. Brad Little recommending the wearing of masks where social distancing isn’t possible.

The Legislature is scheduled to convene Monday, drawing 105 lawmakers from across the state. Seventy of them are representatives and 35 are senators. Each group meets in separate chambers.

The lawsuit says Chew has reduced immunity because of diabetes 2 and hypertension. The lawsuit also states that Davis is a paraplegic because of a skiing accident three decades ago that has resulted in compromised lung function.

The lawsuit also said Davis is at increased risk of getting COVID-19 because she’s in a wheelchair and moisture emitted by people speaking to her without masks tends to drop downward.

The lawsuit cites Bedke’s failure to control protestors at last summer’s special session that made social distancing more difficult when crowds packed into meeting rooms and the House gallery.

Bedke said he’s working with the leadership team from the House Republican Caucus to make a safe and productive environment where lawmakers can wrap up business as quickly and effectively as possible. (AP)