Politics of masks heats up in the Legislature

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Sen. Mark Hart at hearing without a mask/Kentucky Democratic Party
Senator at Tuesday’s hearing without mask/Kentucky Democratic Party

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The issue of wearing masks for tens of thousands of Kentuckians is one of health and safety.

Personal choice and individual rights wade in for some.

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But the issue increasingly is becoming a political one, too, especially with polls showing widespread support in Kentucky and most parts of the country for wearing masks and in most cases, mandates to do so.

So when several Republican state lawmakers showed up for a hearing Tuesday not wearing masks, the Democrats jumped on it, especially since a state senator announced Monday he has the coronavirus.

In a press release, the Kentucky Democratic Party called Tuesday’s hearing a “startling scene” and called out the legislators, especially since some of them attended a hearing last week with Sen. Max Wise, who tested positive for the virus on Friday.

“Republicans have bristled at the mask requirement, and on Friday Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron became the only Attorney General in the country to mount a legal challenge to mask requirements,” the Democratic Party said in the release.

At least two legislators, State Rep. Hart and State Sen. Meredith, were in attendance at a hearing with Sen. Wise on Tuesday, July 7. None of the three wore masks, Democrats said.

“Republicans cannot claim to support mask-wearing, but then show up in Frankfort refusing to wear masks and placing everyone around them at risk,” said Marisa McNee, spokesperson for the Kentucky Democratic Party. “At least two of these members are known to have been in contact with Sen. Wise who announced on Monday that he has tested positive for coronavirus. It is an absolute dereliction of duty for these members to continue to behave this way. Just shameful.”

The state’s Republican Party has not responded to a request for comment.