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Utah Senate votes to overturn Salt Lake County mask mandate, among others

Jan 18, 2022, 4:54 PM | Updated: Jan 21, 2022, 10:16 am

SALT LAKE CITY— The Utah Senate voted Tuesday to overturn the Salt Lake County and Summit County mask mandates with no public hearing.

The resolution to terminate the orders, including the student mask mandate in Salt Lake City, passed with 22 votes for overturning the mandates and 5 for maintaining the mandates.

Republican senators supporting the resolution said wearing a mask should be a personal decision.

“People do not like it when we make decisions for them. They just don’t,” Sen. Daniel McCay, R-District 11, said. “Utahns should be free to wear a mask or get a vaccine, or stay home, but the government should not be mandating or dictating what businesses should be enforcing, especially when it comes to personal health decisions.”

“If you want to wear a mask, and that is in your best interest, you’re absolutely free to do so. But, we need to end the divisiveness that this is causing,” Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-District 9, said.

Democrats who voted against the resolution said that the legislature should leave mask mandates up to local control.

“If you believe in local control, the county has decided that this is in their best interest,” Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-District 8, said.

“It kind of annoys me, to be honest with you, that we are wasting time in this debate when it’s set to expire automatically, and we have skyrocketing cases,” Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-District 2, said.

In response, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall called this retribution-type politics and an unfortunate start of the session.

“This is not a time for more politics to infect the wellbeing of the public,” she said.

And Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said state lawmakers are changing the playbook at a critical time.

“We followed the rules and did exactly as was intended by the law, and it’s unfortunate that they’re moving the goalpost today,” Wilson said.

The voting now goes to the House of Representatives, where it will most likely be voted on Wednesday.

Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, filed the resolution in the Senate to terminate the public health order issued by the Salt Lake County Health Department last week.

The bill had to pass with 15 votes in the Senate and 38 votes in the House of Representatives.

The mask mandate remained in place after a 5-4 vote in Salt Lake County Council Thursday.

A publicly announced meeting between Chairwoman Laurie Stringham of the Salt Lake County Council and state leaders to discuss the county’s mask mandate failed to materialize Monday.

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Utah Senate votes to overturn Salt Lake County mask mandate, among others