FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The mandates requiring masks to be worn during the coronaviurus pandemic have stirred controversy, and even fights, across the country. Now, the social and political scuffle is moving to the halls of the Kentucky legislature.
Bill 158, filed by Senator Adrienne Southworth (R) Lawrenceburg, would strip the statewide mask mandate now and during any other health emergency.
Southworth said she had several reasons to file the bill – a main one she said is because masks aren’t worn as often in the rural communities she represents.
“There’s a lot of places in more rural areas, even currently, masks aren’t nearly the thing that they are in more condensed areas,” Southworth said.
One region Southworth represents is Woodford County and within that, the City of Midway. Its mayor, Grayson Vandegrift, disagreed with her statement.
“We are the definition of a rural city,” Vandegrift said. “I know what the large majority of what our citizens are saying and it is overwhelmingly that we know that masks, uh, they help.”
Southworth said another reason for the bill is harassment.
“There’s some serious, real medical issues out there and people are literally being bullied for their inability to wear a mask,” Southworth said.
Vandegrift said it’s unfair that Southworth didn’t talk to any local leaders before filing the bill.
“Republicans in the Senate have been yelling for months that Governor Beshear won’t speak with them; well, we haven’t been reached out to by our state senator, so I think that road goes both ways,” Vandegrift said. “I have yet, yet to be reached out to by Senator Southworth.”
Southworth says she’s confident local leaders and health authorities would pass their own mandates, but Vandegrift says they would likely buckle under political pressure.
“We are better if we are united,” Vandegrift said. “We will get through this better if we are united. We will save more lives if we are united.”