Legislative update: Mask ban bill has now been introduced

Nathan Law

Brian ChilsonOUTSIDE THE CAPITOL: Youngster doesn’t need no stinkin’ shot. The House and Senate convened briefly this morning and then adjourned until tomorrow after assigning the only bills introduced so far to committee meetings this afternoon. So far, the only bills introduced — two in the House and one in […]

Brian Chilson
OUTSIDE THE CAPITOL: Youngster doesn’t need no stinkin’ shot.

The House and Senate convened briefly this morning and then adjourned until tomorrow after assigning the only bills introduced so far to committee meetings this afternoon.

So far, the only bills introduced — two in the House and one in the Senate — are aimed at legalizing termination of federal pandemic unemployment benefits. Governor Hutchinson tried to do this by executive order, stopping $300 million in potential payments to 69,000 jobless people under the theory they are deadbeats choosing benefits over work, though the benefits aren’t payable unless someone is actively seeking suitable work.

As yet, no bill has been introduced to amend the ban on government mask mandates, which the governor has requested to give school districts the ability, but not require them, to impose mask rules. A suspension of rules in the House will allow bills to be filed and referred quickly to a committee.

That legislation, should it be introduced, faces a dim future. But the shape of it will be interesting. Would it be written to allow mask requirements only for those younger than 12, when students of different ages mix on buses and elsewhere? A moot point for now, since no bill has been introduced.

UPDATE: At 10:25 a.m., Rep. Julie Mayberry introduced a bill to amend the masked mandate bill to allow school districts to impose them. The key language allows a mask requirement only in places where students younger than 12 are present and only in districts with high COVID-19 rates The definition of when masks can be mandated:

A public school district that mandates the use of a face mask, face shield, or other face covering in a school building, school bus, or other congregate educational setting within the public school district where children under twelve (12) years of age may be present during times dedicated for academic purposes only if:

(A) The school district has a fourteen-day coronavirus infection rate of at least fifty (50) new known infections 4 per ten thousand (10,000) residents of the public school district based on the most recent data published by the Department of Health or the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement; and

B) The local school board of directors votes on and approves the mandate; or

An open-enrollment public charter school that mandates the use of a face mask, face shield, or other face covering in a school building, school bus, or other congregate educational setting of the open-enrollment public charter school where children under twelve (12) years of age may be present during times dedicated for academic purposes only if the county in  which the open-enrollment public charter school is located has a fourteen-day coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) infection rate of at least fifty (50) new known infections per ten thousand (10,000) residents of the county based on the most recent data published by the Department of Health or the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement.

Good luck with all that.

Here’s the latest figuring on which school districts would be eligible to make a mask rule.

Next Post

Homes for Our Troops builds Muskego house for Marine injured in Iraq

MUSKEGO – It’s safe to say Bobby McCardle will not live the life he envisioned before an explosive device cost him his right leg and so much more in Iraq. The lance corporal infantryman for the U.S. Marine Corps certainly knew he could be hurt in the line of duty, carrying […]