Idaho Legislature asks judge to nix lawsuit over virus rules

Boise capitol building

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Legislature says a judge shouldn’t force its leaders to make additional accommodations for lawmakers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Two Democratic lawmakers, Reps. Sue Chew of Boise and Muffy Davis of Ketchum, sued the Legislature and House Speaker Scott Bedke last week, saying the Statehouse is unsafe for them and others with chronic health conditions because coronavirus precautions are being ignored.

Chew, who has diabetes and hypertension, and Davis, who is a paraplegic with compromised lung function, contend that conditions at the Statehouse during the pandemic violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. They want a judge to order Bedke and the Legislature to allow lawmakers to participate remotely and to make other coronavirus-related work accommodations.

On Monday, attorneys for Bedke and the Legislature asked a judge to refuse the request, contending that Davis and Chew aren’t being singled out because the rules on how lawmakers participate in the legislative process apply to all.

“Every legislator is treated equally under the House rules,” the attorneys wrote, contending that the rules don’t have a disproportionate impact on lawmakers with disabilities. “Simply because plaintiffs are unhappy about how their colleagues are responding to COVID-19 does not mean that they are legally entitled to special treatment.”

The Legislature convened Monday, drawing 105 lawmakers from across the state. Many of them don’t wear masks or follow other recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Gov. Brad Little designed to reduce the spread of virus.