In April, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law a bill that forbids all state and local mask mandates.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law Thursday legislation to ban state or local mask mandates for preventing the spread of the coronavirus, even though the prohibition will not take effect until later this summer.
Hutchinson last month dropped the state’s mandate, but cities including Fayetteville and Little Rock were allowed to keep their requirements in place.
The bill is the latest measure the Republican governor has signed to curb the state’s restrictions because of the pandemic. Hutchinson on Wednesday signed bills prohibiting state and local governments from requiring vaccinations against the virus or “vaccine passports” to access services.
The mask mandate ban does not prevent businesses from imposing their own requirements, unlike an earlier version of the bill Hutchinson had said he would veto. The new law doesn’t take effect until late July at the earliest.
The measure doesn’t apply to state-owned or state-controlled health care facilities, state prisons, or facilities operated by the Division of Youth Services.
There is no empirical evidence that demonstrates mask mandates do anything but sell more masks and give the Karenwaffen a focal point for their anger. If you want to wear a mask, by all means, do so. If you want to sacrifice a black rooster under a full moon, drive on. Just don’t make normal people participate in these fetishes.
The sponsor of the bill correctly framed the issue this way:
The Mask Mandate ban in Arkansas was one of the most important laws we passed. The left wants more control over YOU and your children’s lives. Masking is now about power, not public safety. The left is attacking because they know we are winning. #arpx #arleg #ARNews #NoMasks
— State Senator Trent Garner (@Garner4Senate) July 21, 2021
Right now, Arkansas is seeing a spike in Wuhan cases and, being the timorous little weasel that he is, Asa Hutchinson, is having second thoughts about having done the right thing in protecting individual freedom and autonomy. So he’s calling a special session of the state legislature to repeal the law.
Mr. Hutchinson, a relatively moderate Republican, did not see much harm in it at the time. “Our cases were at a very low point,” he recalled in a news conference on Tuesday. However, he added, “In hindsight, I wish that it had not become law.”
In recent days, as coronavirus cases fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant have skyrocketed in Arkansas, Mr. Hutchinson has backtracked and is now urging state legislators to undo part of the law so school districts may adopt mask mandates before students return to their classrooms en masse.
In so doing, he has incensed the most conservative members of his base, underscoring a broader dilemma facing Republican governors across the South, where new coronavirus infections are once again spiking, but where hard-line conservatives remain adamant that many regulations seeking to contain the spread of the virus are a threat to personal freedom.
This is Hutchinson announcing the special session.
The upcoming Special Session to amend Act 1002 is necessary to allow school districts to decide what's best for their schools. Delegating decisions to the most local level of government is not only a good way to govern, it’s also the most conservative. https://t.co/1lrJvN7wnX
— Gov. Asa Hutchinson (@AsaHutchinson) August 2, 2021
Two points on this. First, school districts really aren’t a level of government. Second, and most importantly, we don’t delegate the enforcement of basic rights to all-comers. It seems to me that delegating the liberty interest of children to each public school district runs the risk of an arbitrary and capricious patchwork of regulations, plus it delegates the authority to an institution that has repeatedly shown itself to be dismissive of freedom.
The prognosis is not good.
Mr. Hutchinson, a term-limited, second-term governor who many think has an eye on higher office, called a special session of the Republican-controlled legislature that is expected to meet on Wednesday to consider his proposal allowing school districts to set their own mask mandates.
But on Tuesday, he indicated that its chances of passage were dim. “It’s clear to me that there’s many that just don’t want this in their lap,” he said. “It’s clear to me that some school superintendents don’t want it either.”
“We may or may not get there,” he added.
The New York Times reporter claims, without evidence, that “the stakes are high.” Not so. There is literally nothing about a mask mandate that is going to change the trajectory of the virus.
We know that with scientific certainty after having observed the events of the past year. The political stakes for Hutchinson are nonexistent as he is not going to any higher political office.
I think the loathsome Aaron Rupar has broken the code on this one.
Asa Hutchinson is booked almost every Sunday on one or more of the big news shows as a Republican voice of reason https://t.co/muuinDLF07
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 4, 2021
As Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) admits he regrets signing a law banning local mask mandates, WH Press Sec. Jen Psaki uses him as an example of leaders who “continue to step up and do the right thing.” pic.twitter.com/CSVchZ8jCs
— The Recount (@therecount) August 4, 2021
The real objective could be to make Hutchinson more valuable as a network contributor as the totally reasonable governor locked in a death struggle with a wild-eyed bunch of hicks hellbent on killing everyone because they hate science. We know he’s not doing it for student safety or to make a run for the White House, so this reason makes as much sense as any other.