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GOP-Controlled State Senate Votes To Ban Wearing Masks In Public * 100PercentFedUp.com * by Danielle

NEWS HEADLINES: GOP-Controlled State Senate Votes To Ban Wearing Masks In Public * 100PercentFedUp.com * by Danielle

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The Republican-led North Carolina state Senate voted to prohibit anyone from wearing masks in public.

According to the Associated Press, the proposed legislation would even ban wearing masks in “public for health reasons.”

The amended version of House Bill 237 passed in a 30 to 15 party-line vote.

“The controversial bill, which would also increase criminal penalties for those who commit crimes while wearing a mask in public, comes in the wake of protests that have erupted on college campuses across the country in response to the Israel-Hamas conflict,” NC Newsline reports.

From the Associated Press:

Opponents of the bill say it risks the health of those masking for safety reasons. But those backing the legislation say it is a needed response to the demonstrations, including those at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that escalated to police clashes and arrests. The bill also further criminalizes the blockage of roads or emergency vehicles for a protest, which has occurred during pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Raleigh and Durham.

“It’s about time that the craziness is put, at least slowed down, if not put to a stop,” Wilson County Republican Sen. Buck Newton, who presented the bill, said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Most of the pushback against the bill has centered around its removal of health and safety exemptions for wearing a mask in public. The health exemption was added at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic along largely bipartisan lines.

Democrat lawmakers expressed outrage over the bill’s passage.

“It’s unconscionable,” said Sen. Lisa Grafstein (D-Wake), according to WRAL News.

“Is it really that you find masked chemo patients that threatening? Something about them makes you really angry? Or is this, more likely, a desire to score some political points with the anti-mask crowd during an election year, at the expense of vulnerable people?” Sen. Natasha Marcus (D-Mecklenburg) questioned.

The bill must also pass the GOP-controlled state House before being sent to Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper.

WRAL News reports:

Democratic lawmakers proposed different ways to amend the anti-mask bill to protect people who want to wear masks for health concerns. Republicans shot each of those proposals down, without explaining their opposition.

Sen. Sydney Batch, D-Wake, is a cancer survivor. She spoke about how her husband and children wore masks to protect her while she was undergoing treatment and had a weakened immune system because of it.

“This bill criminalizes their behavior, and mine,” she said. “… We talk a lot about freedoms in this chamber. I hear it all the time. I should have the freedom — my children and my husband should have the freedom — to wear masks in order to protect and save my life, without fear of being arrested and charged.”

Batch and Grafstein each proposed amending the bill in ways they said would still give police the power that Republicans have said they want, to crack down on masked protesters, but to add back in legal protections for people who wear masks for public health reasons.

A third Wake County Democrat, Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, proposed amending the bill to ban hate groups — he specifically mentioned the Ku Klux Klan and Proud Boys — from being allowed to wear masks in public, which the law currently allows them to petition for. His amendment also would’ve required state law enforcement officials do more to track hate groups. Like the other amendments, Republican lawmakers shot it down with no debate or explanation.

Read House Bill 237 HERE.





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