Idaho legislative update: Idaho lawmakers want investment money out of big tech

The Idaho House of Representatives debates a constitutional amendment in the Statehouse in Boise, Idaho, on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. A constitutional amendment allowing the part-time Idaho Legislature to call itself back into session has passed the House and is headed to the Senate. (AP Photo/Keith Ridler)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — DIVESTING FROM BIG TECH

A group of conservative Idaho lawmakers is asking managers of the state’s employee retirement system to divest in tech companies they say don’t value free speech.

The 22 Republican lawmakers and Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin in a letter sent Monday say that $650,000 should be removed from Twitter, Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook. Those companies have either banned former President Donald Trump from social media platforms or taken other actions angering his supporters.

The lawmakers say that by investing in those companies, retirement fund managers are censoring the political and religious speech of Idaho residents.

The Public Employee Retirement System responded with a memo citing investment strategy, but didn’t mention divesting.

STATE VACCINE ALOTMENT LOW

State health care leaders are pressing federal officials to explain why Idaho was allotted far fewer doses of coronavirus vaccine than most other states.

According to numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Idaho has been provided with vaccine at a rate of nearly 10,300 doses for every 100,000 residents. The only state allotted less on a per-capita basis is South Carolina. In contrast, West Virginia has been given more than 15,500 doses for every 100,000 residents.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen says his office has reached out to President Joe Biden’s administration to express concern. He says the administration officials didn’t have an immediate answer but promised to look into it.

LIFTING LIMITS ON GATHERINGS

Legislation to end coronavirus restrictions limiting private and public gatherings to 10 people or fewer has passed the Idaho House and is headed to the Senate. But the legislation faces legal and constitutional questions.

The House voted 55-15 Monday to approve a concurrent resolution aimed specifically at a Dec. 30 health order by Republican Gov. Brad Little and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

The 10-person limit doesn’t apply to religious or political gatherings. The health order contains other restrictions that would be left in place, such as requiring face coverings at long-term

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