Earlier this week we noted a stern speech from State Sen. Julie Gonzales (D-Denver) over Republican colleagues in the state legislature regularly refusing to wear face coverings and generally ignoring COVID-19 health and safety advice from experts. This was not the first time that Republican lawmakers have flouted guidelines meant to protect everyone from COVID-19, but Gonzales’ speech was notable because her family has experienced three deaths from the coronavirus in the last year.
We were thinking of this when we caught news of a story out of Alaska on Thursday, in which state lawmakers have apparently reached their breaking point with a maskless colleague. From The Anchorage Daily News:
The Alaska Senate voted on Wednesday to allow its leaders to exclude Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, from the state Capitol and most in-person legislative activities because of repeated refusals to follow precautions against COVID-19. [Pols emphasis]
Immediately after the vote, Reinbold attempted to convene a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which she chairs. The Senate secretary and Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, withdrew all staff from the meeting.
“This meeting is canceled,” he told Reinbold, who sat in the chairman’s seat, filming Micciche with her cellphone.
Reinbold can still participate in committee meetings by phone and she can cast votes from a spot in the Senate’s spectator gallery, Micciche said.
Reinbold has apparently been quite a thorn in the side of pretty much everyone in the Alaska State Capitol by regularly refusing to wear a mask or even to take a COVID-19 test. Again, from the Daily News:
Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, told the Senate that the time has come for “decisive action.”
“We have reached the point where it must be dealt with. We can no longer in good conscience ignore it,” he said of Reinbold’s behavior. [Pols emphasis]
There are more Republicans than Democrats in both chambers of the Alaska legislature, so this is not a partisan political battle taking place.
If common sense can prevail in an Alaska legislature that is composed mostly of Republicans, perhaps there is hope for the rest of the country.