While most U.S. states have dropped their mask mandates, a handful of Republican governors are outright banning state governmental entities from ever requiring the face-coverings again. The Republican-led states of Texas, Florida, Utah, and Iowa have taken action to prevent future tyrannical government overreach in their states.
In the wee hours of the morning Thursday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed legislation prohibiting school districts, cities and counties from implementing mask mandates. The law prevents schools from forcing children in kindergarten through 12th grade schools to wear masks, and stops cities and counties from mandating masks in businesses.
The law was passed by the Iowa House and Senate in the final hours of the 2021 legislative session and signed by Reynolds shortly before 2 a.m. on Thursday, local time.
“The state of Iowa is putting parents back in control of their child’s education and taking greater steps to protect the rights of all Iowans to make their own health care decisions,” Reynolds said.
— Tim Swain (@SwainForSenate) May 20, 2021
As usual, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was way ahead of the pack, suspending all mask mandates in the state on May 3. He also signed into law SB 2006, which limits government’s ability to impose mask requirements and other social-distancing measures in the Sunshine State. The law also prohibits “vaccine passports”.
During an appearance last week on the Fox News program “Ingraham Angle,” DeSantis said that he would pardon “any Floridian” who violated mask or social distancing mandates. Live on the air, the governor granted clemency to a Broward couple who were arrested three times, and were facing six months in prison for not mandating masks at their gym. DeSantis said their case was “a total overreach.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott meanwhile signed an executive order on Tuesday prohibiting state governmental entities from imposing mask mandates.
“Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities. We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans’ liberty to choose whether or not they mask up,” Abbott said in a news release.
The executive order allows public schools to continue current mask-wearing guidelines through June 4; however, after June 4, no student, teacher, parent or staff member can be required to wear a mask on school grounds, according to the order.
TX is prohibiting mask mandates by gov’t entities.
Starting May 21, local govts attempting to impose mask mandates can be fined up to $1K.
We're also prohibiting public schools from mandating masks after June 4.
Texans, not gov’t, should decide their best health practices. pic.twitter.com/M7iN4sLBJV
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 18, 2021
The Utah legislature on Wednesday passed a bill barring public schools and universities from forcing students to wear masks.
“This bill is about returning our schools to normalcy,” said Rep. Val Peterson, who sponsored HB1007. “About giving some assurances to parents and to students alike that when they come back this fall, that they’ll return back to a normal situation.”
The legislation passed the House with a 50-24 vote and in the Senate with a 23-5 vote.
Most blue states are lifting their mask mandates by the end of the week, but a few Democrat-led states are keeping them in place, at least in the short term.
Following the CDC’s announcement last week easing mask-wearing requirements, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that he would not be lifting the Golden State’s mask mandate until June 15.
“This four-week period will give Californians time to prepare for this change while we continue the relentless focus on delivering vaccines,” Newsom’s spokesman Mark Ghaly explained.
New Jersey is also still clinging to the mask requirements even for fully vaccinated people. Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement that the Garden State will be keeping its mask mandate for now while they review the guidelines. “We’re not ready yet,” the governor said.
In Pennsylvania, masks are still mandated for those who have not been vaccinated until the state reaches 70 percent vaccinations in people aged 18 and over. The Keystone State is also continuing limitations on crowd capacity lifting until May 30.
Pennsylvania residents sent Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf a strong rebuke Tuesday, voting for Republican-proposed constitutional amendments curbing his emergency powers.
The constitutional amendments will give lawmakers much more power over disaster declarations, to apply whether the emergency is another pandemic or natural disaster.
“Last night, Pennsylvanians voted to reject Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf’s overreach of executive powers after his failed COVID response — a clear sign of accountability coming in 2022,” Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted Wednesday.
Penn. Republican Party chairman, Lawrence Tabas, said in a statement that the people voted to “put a stop to Gov. Tom Wolf’s dictatorship.”