The Republican-controlled House in North Dakota passed a bill on Monday that would block state or local governments from mandating face coverings.
The bill also prohibits “making use of a face mask, shield, or covering a condition for entry for education, employment, or services.”
This as some lawmakers argue that their state is not a prison camp and the government should not be allowed to order them to wear a mask. Supporters of the bill also argue that there is no proof that masks actually work to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. Jeff Hoverson said federal mask mandates are “diabolical silliness” and part of a larger conspiracy driven by “unelected, wealthy bureaucrats who are robbing our freedoms and perpetuating lies,” according to the The Grand Forks Herald.
The bill now goes to the Senate after passing in the House by a 50-44 vote.
The state’s Republican Gov. Doug Burgum imposed a statewide mask mandate in November to slow the spread of the virus which was threatening to overwhelm the state’s hospital system.
North Dakota’s COVID-19 case count –which was one of the worst in the country–plummeted after the local and state mandates were issued, Grand Forks Herald noted. But, health experts say it was a combination of factors, like restrictions on businesses and greater adherence to social distancing, that ultimately led to a drop in infections.
The decline in cases lead Gov. Burgum to drop the statewide mask requirement as well as limits on the number of people who gather in restaurants, bars and event venues in January.
Both chambers of the North Dakota State legislature have a mask mandate, but the rule is lightly enforced and it’s often ignored by lawmakers.