Montana lawmakers reject mask mandate ahead of session

December 18, 2020 | By IRIS SAMUELS | The Western News

“HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Republican state lawmakers in Montana rejected proposals Wednesday by Democrats to require masks at next month’s legislative session or meet remotely, opting instead to form a panel that will assess what’s needed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Republicans, who hold majorities in both legislative chambers, also declined to delay the session until the vaccine is widely available. Small businesses depend on swift action from the Legislature to survive, said Sen. Jason Ellsworth, a Republican from Hamilton who drafted the proposal to create the panel.

The panel would be comprised of six Republicans and two Democrats. Under the rules that Republicans advanced, lawmakers would be allowed to participate remotely with permission from their caucus leadership.

But the joint rules committee voted against adopting additional regulations Wednesday following an hour of public testimony from public health officials, teachers and business owners who spoke in favor of more stringent measures to limit the spread of the virus.”


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