Colorado House Republicans, who largely don’t wear face masks at the Capitol, opposed a resolution Friday that would have required masks and social distancing for members of the public at the Capitol amid high numbers of omicron cases.
The heated argument that pitted them against the Democrats had to do with House Resolution 22-1003, which allowed Speaker Alec Garnett, a Denver Democrat, to create safety rules during the public health emergency, which was eventually passed by party vote. lines. While staff and the public will be required to wear masks in committee rooms, galleries and chambers once the rules are in place, lawmakers will only be “encouraged” to wear them.
House GOP Minority Leader Hugh McKean says the mandate to wear masks cannot be extended to legislators because there is a provision in the state constitution forbidding legislators from interfering with their work. This means that an MP cannot be kicked out of a building, for example, for not wearing a mask. Garnett assured Republican members that he would consult with McKean when deciding on the rules and possible changes.
Republican Rep. Stephanie Luck of Penrose started the debate by telling House members that those who don’t wear masks like her don’t do it to put others at risk, and that many of her constituents would be uncomfortable coming to Capitol in clothes. mask. She added that although they have the ability to testify remotely, it has its own problems.
“People who choose not to wear a mask don’t want to put other people at risk,” Lak said. “They are looking at a different set of facts. They consider a different set of arguments and make the best decisions for themselves and their families based on those sets of facts.”
For luck, this included the argument that wearing a mask lowers oxygen levels, which turned out to be false – multiple studies, including one by UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital published in February, showed that wearing a cloth or surgical mask did not impair intake oxygen. Public health experts and scientists have repeatedly pointed to the effectiveness of wearing masks in containing the spread of the virus.
Luck also introduced bill HB21-1202 this year to allow off-label use of COVID-19 drugs such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, which the Food and Drug Administration has warned against.
Other Republicans also opposed the measures, saying that their rights should not be infringed.
The arguments disappointed Rep. Kyle Mallika, a Northglenn Democrat and emergency room nurse who spoke of how last week, while caring for COVID-positive patients, he had to move patients from gurneys to the waiting room because he couldn’t there were enough beds available.
“And listen, the science is clear,” he said. “Masks help stop the spread of this virus.” Mallika added that healthcare workers were wearing masks to protect patients who were being treated for other illnesses before the pandemic.
“…this idea that we are infringing on someone’s rights or that we are doing something wrong is absurd. This is not true,” he added. “We tried to put in place a policy that would protect people. They will help stop the spread of this virus. We have a job in this building to do people’s work, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Republicans have attempted to introduce amendments that would have prevented the mask requirement and banned vaccine passports — the latter of which Garnett said was not considered in the regulations — but to no avail.