By Conduit for Action
It was just a few months ago the legislature banned masked mandates by passing Act 1002 (SB590).
But Governor Asa Hutchinson wants the ability to impose mask mandates in schools. To get legislators to flip from their earlier position of banning mandates, the Governor’s proposal makes local school board members the scapegoats by making them responsible for whether to impose a mask mandate. The Governor claims this is the most conservative thing to do because it gives local control. No, the conservative thing to do is exactly what Act 1002 did – leave it up to a child’s parents to decide whether it is best for their child to wear a mask or not wear a mask.
The Governor’s legislation has been filed as HB1003 by Representative Julie Mayberry (R – Hensley) and Representative Jimmy Gazaway (R -Paragould). Rep. Mayberry did not vote on Act 1002 but Rep Gazaway had voted for the ban. Gazaway has become the first flipper needed by the Governor.
HB1003 doubles down on pressuring local school boards by triggering their authority based on how many COVID-19 cases have been reported within the boundaries of the district. The intent of the trigger is to make it harder for local school boards to say “no” to imposing a mandate. The trigger essentially makes it a state mandate but with the local school boards still being used as the scapegoats.
HB1003 was debated in the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on Wednesday, August 4. No vote was taken. Instead, Rep. Mayberry pulled the bill down to make more modifications in hopes of swaying a few more legislators to vote for the mandate bill.
Who are the members of the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee? The committee has twenty members. We are listing the members based on how they voted on Act 1002 which prohibits mask mandates. Listing them this way will help you see who the Governor needs to flip to get his mandate passed out of committee.
Yes on Act 1002 to ban mask mandates: Bentley, Boyd, Cloud, Coleman, Dotson, Eubanks, Gonzales, M. Gray, Ladyman, Miller, Payton, Penzo, Pilkington, Wardlaw, No: F. Allen, Magie, Perry, , Didn’t vote: M. Davis, D. Ferguson, Wing, ,
Eleven votes are needed to pass the mask mandate out of committee. This means the Governor will have to flip several committee members.
But don’t count the Governor out. Earlier this year the Governor got enough Representatives to flip and not vote to override his veto of a bill to give back COVID-19 fines. Five members of the committee were among those flippers: Boyd, Coleman, Eubanks, Ladyman, and Wardlaw
Mask mandate legislation has an uphill battle in the House committee, but the Governor will be helping make tweaks in legislation to try to flip more votes.
You need to let your Senator and Representative know your opinion on Asa’s plan to make school boards his scapegoats.