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Bill eliminating statewide mask mandates hits a surprising setback

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 4:19 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2021 at 6:23 PM EDT
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Frankfort, KY (WAVE) - A bill crafted to do away with statewide mask mandates was dealt a surprising defeat at the state capitol.

Republican lawmakers came up one vote short when members of the House Education Committee voted the plan down.

The outcome was the result of an unlikely collection of opposition votes coming from people who support statewide mask mandates and those who reject all mask requirements.

No one was willing to budge.

”Very much entrenched and I respect that,” republican bill sponsor and District 63 Representative Kim Banta said. “I understand you have to represent your constituency, but it was a surprise.”

The opposition included five Jefferson County representatives, the only democrats on the committee.

Their support was already in doubt after a letter signed by leaders of the state’s two largest school districts.

A proposed rule limiting all districts to 20 days of remote learning, was criticized as not practical for JCPS and Fayette County with large numbers of schools struggling with COVID outbreaks.

But in the end, it was mask mandates that carried the day.

”I think that you have two groups who for very different reasons voted no,” Jefferson County democratic Representative Tina Bojanowski said.

It was a surprising setback in a Republican-dominated legislature, which had been counting on unity within its ranks to bring a quick end to the special session.

”People are tired, they’re frustrated, still looking for answers,” republican Representative James Tipton of Spencer County said. " And I don’t know that there is a perfect answer out there.”

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