On Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson called the General Assembly into a special session that starts today to consider his proposal to loosen a ban on covid-19 mask mandates in government by allowing public school boards to require students under age 12 to wear the face coverings.
The special session will begin around 10am. You can watch the livestream here: Arkansas State Legislature website.
How Many Legislators Does Asa Need To Flip?
To pass his mandate, Asa will have to flip at least 19 Representatives and 2 Senators who just a few months ago voted to prohibit state and local governments from imposing mask mandates. That was Act 1002 of 2021 (SB590) by Senator Trent Garner.
Mass Flipping On Earlier Bill Giving Relief From Asa’s Covid Edicts
Getting at least 19 Representatives to flip may seem like a big hurdle but Asa was able to overcome similar odds earlier this year on SB301 by Senator Dan Sullivan which would have returned fines imposed under Asa’s emergency COVID rules. The bill passed both houses but Asa vetoed the bill. Overriding Asa’s veto looked like a sure thing since 69 Representatives had voted for the bill and only 51 were needed to override his veto. But Asa’s pressure got 28 Representatives to flip and not vote for the override. This meant the veto override failed.
Who Will Asa Target To Flip On Masks?
Obviously, Asa will target anyone he has leverage over, but don’t you think his first target will be the same legislators he was able to flip on the bill to give back fines? Of the 28 flippers, 23 of them voted to prohibit mask mandates and they will be Asa’s prime targets. Here is the list of the 23: Boyd, Bragg, Breaux, Brown, Coleman, Crawford, Eaves, Eubanks, Evans, L. Fite, Hawks, Holcomb, Jean, L. Johnson, Ladyman, Lynch, Maddox, McNair, S. Smith, Tosh, Vaught, Wardlaw, and Wooten
In the Senate where Asa needs two Senators to flip, only Senator Hester flipped on the bill to give back fines.
Asa Could Win
Governor Hutchison likely thinks he has the votes to make school boards the scapegoats for imposing mask mandates, otherwise he would not have announced a special session to consider the legislation.