The state’s lower chamber voted 50-44 Monday to prohibit state and local governments, schools and businesses from ordering mask mandates amid the coronavirus pandemic, The Grand Forks Herald reported.
The bill will head next to the Senate.
Rep. Jeff Hoverson, the bill’s sponsor, has characterized the mask requirements as “diabolical silliness.”
“The mask is a part of a larger apparatus of a movement of unelected, wealthy bureaucrats, who are robbing our freedoms and perpetuating lies,” Hoverson said, Prairie Public Press reported.
Meanwhile, Rep. Jason Dockter argued that a ban on masks would take away control from local governments.
“If people wanted to decide to have a mask mandate, they should have that choice,” Dockter said. “They should also have the choice not to mandate.”
The potential legislation comes after North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum imposed a statewide mask mandate in November.
“Since the beginning, we’ve taken a data-driven approach to our pandemic response, focusing on saving lives and livelihoods,” Burgum said at the time. “Right now, the data demands a higher level of mitigation efforts to reverse these dangerous trends, to slow the spread of this virus, and to avoid the need for economic shutdowns.”
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