Horowitz: Arkansas governor threatens to veto bills permanently banning mask mandates, vaccine passports
Coming off his veto of the bill barring chemical castration for minors, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) is now threatening to veto a bill in the legislature that would ban the state government from ever criminalizing human breathing again. I guess Asa believes there is a right for minors to seek and doctors to perform castration, but no right to breathe without a Chinese face burka.
On March 31, the Arkansas Senate passed HB 590, which would permanently bar the governor or any state official from ever instituting a mask mandate. The bill passed with overwhelming support, and the senators voted to make it effective immediately. Last Thursday, the House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee recommended that the full House pass the bill as well. The Senate bill is sponsored by Sen. Trent Garner, and the House bill is sponsored by Rep. Joshua Bryant.
With such overwhelming support from the supermajority Republican-controlled legislature, one would expect that a governor who speaks of Reagan and Buckley and claimed to suspend the mask mandate himself would enthusiastically sign the bill. However, at the time it passed the Senate, Mr. Conservative Governor promised to veto it. “The bill is pointless, except it would prohibit private businesses, schools and hospitals from requirements for face coverings,” Hutchinson said in a statement after the vote. “This is not a good idea, and I would veto the bill in its current form.”
Putting aside the fact that it is not conservative to allow businesses to violate basic human rights at a time when we apply anti-discrimination, ADA, and OSHA laws to every other health issue, this bill doesn’t even bar private businesses from imposing their own mask mandates. It only applies to the governor and his departments or other state and local governmental actors, and the new version from the House committee explicitly states that it doesn’t apply to private businesses. Yet the governor still had his agency folks testify against the bill. “The department of health officials under Gov. Hutchinson were the only ones testifying against it on Thursday,” bill sponsor Sen. Trent Garner said in an interview with TheBlaze. “No teachers or small business owners objected to it.”
It’s shocking that Hutchinson would list schools among his objections to getting rid of mask mandates when he himself has suspended the mandate for the general public. Kids are not at risk at all from getting critically ill from this virus. Why would masking children be a bigger priority?
There is an important lesson to be gleaned here. Many conservatives are celebrating the fact that 24 governors have rescinded (or never instituted) statewide mask mandate. But most of those governors have not seen the light on the science and humanity; they are just temporarily suspending it but reserving the right to continue it in the future. Many of them did so because they saw the writing on the wall and that the GOP-controlled legislatures would permanently strip them of their power. Hutchinson only lifted the mandate when he saw the legislature already passed a bill nullifying his emergency powers after 60 days.
Rather than celebrate as if the ball is in the end zone after these gubernatorial announcements, conservatives would be wise to push legislation permanently barring the governors (and preferably mayors and school boards too) from ever criminalizing human breathing again. The North Dakota legislature just passed such a bill, as well as the Idaho House.
What we are seeing from so many GOP governors is that they claim to be with us rhetorically just enough to win primaries, but when it comes to action, not only are they not with us, they actively oppose any effort to put teeth into their promises. This is why Hutchinson claims to oppose the transgender agenda but vetoed a bill to actually put a stop to it. He claimed to oppose continuing mask mandates or fining businesses but vetoed the bill canceling those fines and is promising to veto the mask bill.
Likewise, Gov. Hutchinson, like most GOP governors, came out in opposition to vaccine passports, but is actively opposing any effort to pre-empt them in the real world. The big fight about vaccine passports is with big corporations who are acting in concert with the federal government to mandate them in violation of every medical privacy, anti-discrimination, and ADA law on the books. To allow businesses to require vaccine passports is to create a massive carve-out in existing law when they are acting on behalf of government anyway.
Sen. Garner in Arkansas has introduced SB 615, which would bar all businesses from mandating vaccine passports. The bill passed the Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee last week and now heads to the full senate today. Once again, the only people who testified in opposition were the governor’s agency heads after the governor supposedly came out in opposition to vaccine passports.
Gov. Bill Lee did something similar in Tennessee when he announced with much pomp and anticipation his opposition to vaccine passports, but then sent down his representatives to the legislature to successfully block the bill that would actually make it a reality.
The moral of the story? Don’t rely on the same power-hungry governors who suspended constitutional liberties and natural law in the first place to suddenly secure our rights again. We must ensure that the legislatures permanently strip these governors of any power to issue these unscientific and unconstitutional edicts ever again.