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Senate passes bill to prohibit state government from issuing mask mandates

The North Dakota Senate has passed an amended bill, that prohibits any state government official from issuing a mask mandate.

The original HB 1323l would have also prohibited local governments and businesses from issuing mask mandates.

The amendment’s author – Sen. Jessica Bell (R-Beulah) – said it was a compromise between freedom and safety.

"We are looking for a balance between holding our freedoms that are important to all of us, as well as insuring that people feel safe," Bell told the Senate.

Sen. Brad Bekkedahl (R-Williston) caught the COVID-19 virus after Christmas, and was not in Bismarck for the first week of the Legislative Session, logging in remotely. He told the Senate he believes this will not be the last time the country would be dealing with this kind of health situation.

"I don't think it's very appropriate for us to put a mandate into state statute that the Governor can never call for a mask mandate to protect the public, in an event that would be way more severe than this," Bekkedahl argued.

The bill, as amended, passed on a 30 to 17 vote. It now goes back to the House, to see if it agrees with the Senates changes.

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