I have been very busy at the Capitol of late. There is a great deal of legislation demanding our attention so my message today will be brief.
First, we need you to help us defeat HB 1323. This ill-conceived piece of legislation would prohibit state or locally elected officials, the state of ND, and political subdivisions from mandating the use of face masks, face shields, or other face coverings. In essence, HB 1323 would prohibit a local school district, agency head, mayor, or city council/commission, from attempting to mitigate the effects of an airborne health hazard, like the Coronavirus.
This legislation represents an incredible overreach by the legislature in usurping the power currently entrusted to the executive branch and to political subdivisions. The effects of HB 1323, should it become law, would hamstring statewide, as well as local efforts, to keep North Dakotans safe in the event of a health emergency like the one we are currently experiencing.
In fact, during the crossover recess, I was invited to join the leadership of Fargo and West Fargo public schools as well as legislators representing those districts. The message could not be clearer: should HB 1323 pass, it would be impossible for either district to offer full-time face-to-face instruction if they could not enforce a mask mandate.
Make no mistake, HB 1323 is a statement bill intended to express the displeasure of the bill’s sponsors with the actions taken by the governor and several cities to initiate mask mandates. The fact that those mandates helped to drive down the rate of infection notwithstanding, the sponsors – Reps. Hoverson and Magrum, and Sen. Oley Larsen – are determined to pass this bill to send a message that no one is going to tell them what to do.
This bill will be heard in the Senate Political Subdivisions Committee on Thursday of this week. Please sign this action alert on HB 1323.
On another note, the 2020 ND United Virtual Delegate Assembly will be held on April 17, 2021. If you would like to be a delegate to the DA, simply drop an email to your local president and they will be able to help you get registered! Registration closes on April 9 so act now!