by Guy Page
Despite “no” votes from both the political left and right, the Vermont Senate today approved a Temporary Municipal Mask Mandate.
S1 passed 17-10. The bill now goes to the Vermont House this afternoon, the first day of the Special Session.
Sen. Anthony Pollina rejects giving municipalities mask mandate power, favoring targeted masking by state officials, which he called “the best policy to protect the most people with the least amount of divisiveness.” He was joined in a no vote by Sen. Andy Perchlik (I/P – Washington).
Sen. Brian Collamore (R-Rutland) cited numerous problems with the bill:
- Statewide Mask-Mandated New Mexico has the second highest number of cases.
- Statewide Mask-Mandated Connecticut has a higher hospitalization rate than mandate-free Mississippi and Florida.
- The Vermont League of Cities and Towns did not survey its members before calling for the municipal mask mandate.
- There are no specific enforcement provisions.
Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin) reminded his colleagues that “Vermonters will do anything you ask them to do, and nothing you tell them to do.” The bill is heavy-handed and should not pass, he said.
Collamore and Sen. Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) said they have received (together) a total of 225 phone calls, with only two in favor, the rest against. The virtually 100% opposition of phone callers to S1 was mirrored in today’s calls to the Sergeant at Arms office in the State House. Calls were steady and opposed all morning, a spokesperson said.
“What does Vermont Strong mean?” Sen. Alison Clarkson (D-Windsor) said. “If we can put up with mud season, we can put up with masks.”
The Senate then adjourned, making it impossible to reconvene today to consider any changes by the House. Both chambers would likely return on another day in that event.