COVID-19

State budget deal would ban mask mandates

The agreement hammered out between Republicans and Democrats would also restrict health departments from requiring masks in schools.

Democrats and Republicans in state government have reached an agreement to pass a budget, averting a possible government shutdown. But a small bit of language tucked into the budget bill could have large implications for students throughout the state.

The provision would ban state and local health departments from issuing vaccine or mask requirements in their jurisdictions. Currently, Kalamazoo and a number of other counties have issued orders requiring masks in schools.

Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has said she has no intention of issuing a statewide mandate for either vaccines or masks. But the provision would effectively outlaw many mask requirements throughout the state.

At the same time, Republican leaders in the state house and senate say the provision is necessary, although specific bills to enact the exact same policies have so far failed to pass.

Governor Whitmer has line item veto power, meaning she could simply cross out those sections of the bill once they reach her desk. So far, she has not said whether or not she would do so.

[Detroit Free Press]