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Anti-mask bill up for debate Tuesday

Idaho Statehouse
Posted at 4:31 PM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 18:31:51-05

BOISE, Idaho — Masks have been a controversial topic since the start of the pandemic and one lawmaker is looking to put an end to most mask mandates in the state.

Republican Rep. Karey Hanks of Idaho Falls introduced a bill last week that looks to prohibit local governments and school districts from mandating face masks and face coverings. Then this morning, she introduced similar legislation for state government-issued mask mandates.

With the new legislation introduced Monday morning, she pulled back the enforcement and penalty provisions after hearing concerns that public employees introduced to certain chemicals while on the job are required to wear protective gear. Hanks introduced similar before during the last session — but it did not gain traction.

Gov. Brad Little has not issued a statewide mask-mandate at all during the pandemic, but individual cities across Idaho have issued their own.

Rep. Karey Hanks
Rep. Karey Hanks

“I think we’re all hearing from our constituents and others that we’re just tired of the masks and you can just look at whatever research you want to but for many of us we believe that doesn’t work as it intended,” Hanks said.

Tuesday inside the statehouse — lawmakers will debate on Hanks' initial legislation that would forbid mandates that require someone to wear a face mask, face shield or any other face covering for the purpose of preventing of slowing the spread of an infectious disease.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases have seen a decline across Idaho, but virus activity in the community is still high, according to Department of Health and Welfare officials.

During the hearing last week, Hanks said everyone should be responsible for their own health and focus on taking vitamins like zinc, rather than following health official's guidance of wearing an N95 mask to protect yourself.