COVID-19

GOP bid to ban mask requirements likely to be vetoed

A small part of the legislatures new budget bill would block health officials from issuing mask orders. But the governor may not let it through.

State Republicans’ last-ditch effort to ban mask requirements in Michigan may be dead on arrival. That’s because of the governor’s line item veto power.

The GOP-led legislature on Wednesday passed a $70 million state budget just a week before the deadline. Tucked into a small section of a budget bill is a short piece of language that would prohibit state and local health officials from requiring children to wear masks.

“The director or a local health officer shall not issue or enforce any orders or other directives that require an individual in this state who is under the age of 18 to wear a face mask or face covering,” reads Section 250 of the budget bill.

Kalamazoo County has just such a mask mandate, issued by the county’s health officer in advance of the school year. It requires students and staff to mask indoors in schools where children are too young to be vaccinated.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has so far demurred when asked if she will strike the section from the budget bill. The governor has the power to cross out sections of approved legislation before she signs them.

“We will do our task of going through line by line of the budget to see what is enforceable, what might not be enforceable,” she told reporters earlier this week. “And then I will do my action and get it signed, and make some changes if necessary.”

[Bridge Michigan]