Whitmer To Nix Budget Provision That Tries To Ban Mask Rules

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office said Friday she will declare unenforceable a Republican-written budget provision that seeks to ban indoor mask requirements for children.

The Democrat had been expected to block the language as unconstitutional since $55 billion in spending was unveiled and quickly passed by Michigan's Legislature earlier this week. Spokesman Bobby Leddy confirmed next week's move in a statement, calling the proposed restriction “dangerous.”

“Gov. Whitmer has always said that she would protect public health measures that save lives and oppose any attempts to undermine or restrict basis lifesaving actions throughout this pandemic,” he said.

The provision, which is not tied to spending, would prevent the state health director and local health officers from issuing or enforcing orders that require kids under age 18 to wear a face covering. More than a dozen counties, including most of the state's most populated ones, mandate masking in schools to curb COVID-19. Various K-12 districts in other counties also require face coverings.

The governor and GOP legislators did negotiate other language related to coronavirus vaccine exemptions and reporting requirements for epidemic orders.

Whitmer's office did not say why the mask provision is unconstitutional. But the state constitution bars lawmakers from changing the public health law without amending it directly, as opposed to trying to revise it through the budget, according to legal experts.

___

Follow David Eggert at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00