Perhaps no issue has garnered more attention — and been more divisive — during the COVID-19 pandemic than mask mandates. And now North Dakota’s legislators may face the reality of a mandate of their own during the upcoming Legislative Session.
As reported by Forum Communications’ Jeremy Turley yesterday:
“The interim Legislative Procedure and Arrangements Committee voted 8-2 on Wednesday, Oct. 21, to recommend that lawmakers be required to wear face coverings and get tested for COVID-19 twice per week when attending the legislative session at the state Capitol building.”
Last month, I wrote about House Minority Leader Josh Boschee (D – District 44) wanting to see a mandate become a reality. His justification? Well, he has to wear a tie as part of the dress code, so why not a mask too?
What seems to be missed — or ignored — in the discussion is the reality that changes are already being implemented to “promote the health and safety” of those in the House and Senate chambers. Namely, that lawmakers who desire to participate remotely will be allowed to do so.
If those who fall into the vulnerable category — or are just fearful of getting the virus — are allowed to participate remotely, why have a mask mandate? It seems to me everyone else should be able to go mask-free, if that’s their desire.
As noted by Turley, if the proposed mandate is adopted, it will affect more than just lawmakers, since “the mask requirement would apply to all areas of the Capitol that fall under legislative control.” In other words, everyone — including the public — found in these areas would have to wear a mask.
While no enforcement mechanism has been determined, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R – District 37) told the Bismarck Tribune that, “If it’s passed by the chambers, we’re going to enforce it.”
Rep. Luke Simons (R – District 36) has already determined he “will not comply”. He responded to the news of a potential mask mandate with this post on Facebook:
It’ll be interesting to see how many other legislators feel as Rep. Simons does. Will the House and Senate rules committees give the green light to the idea? All this remains to be seen. But as of now, it looks like the momentum is in favor of masking North Dakota’s lawmakers.
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