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Legislature one step closer to overturning mask mandate

Jan 18, 2022, 11:58 AM | Updated: 5:03 pm

utah capitol special session...

KSL NewsRadio FILE - The Utah State Capitol Building as seen atop the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on August 11, 2021.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Senate voted to overturn a days-old public health order requiring people to mask up indoors in Salt Lake County, on the very first day of the 2022 session of the Utah Legislature.

However, the order remains in place for now, as the House needs to vote on it next. That could take place as soon as tomorrow. 

Legislature considers joint resolution on mask mandate

Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, filed the resolution in the Senate to terminate the public health order issued by the Salt Lake County Health Department last week. 

A joint resolution differs from a bill in that it only requires a majority in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. Whereas, a bill requires both majorities and a signature from the governor. 

Senators voted Tuesday afternoon to overturn the mask order, sending the joint resolution to the House for consideration. 

Lawmakers face criticism

While many Utahns oppose the idea of a mask mandate, others support it, and both sides became vocal on social media in recent days. Some Salt Lake County council members even received threats over their vote to uphold the mandate. 

Alliance for a Better Utah, a nonprofit organization, criticized the decision to hold the legislative vote without public comment. Deputy Director Katie Matheson issued the following statement: 

Utahns want to be free to live their lives safely, but for almost two years COVID-19 has brought immeasurable harm to our physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Last year, Utah lawmakers foolishly declared the pandemic over and insisted that only local leaders could make emergency orders for their communities. Only one year later, our case counts are higher than they’ve ever been, our hospitals are overrun and understaffed, medical workers are burned out, schools lack sufficient teachers, and the burden of this virus is being carried by all Utahns across the state. Legislative leaders are actively tying the hands of local leaders who are working hard everyday to protect their residents.

Our hospitals, schools, and businesses are in a crisis. Even though they profess to dislike this crisis and want to get it over with, lawmakers, legislative leadership, and Governor Cox are prolonging and worsening this crisis by tying the hands of those who are on the ground trying to take commonsense actions to protect our communities’ health and safety.

Tune in here for the latest from the Utah Legislature on KSL NewsRadio. 

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Legislature one step closer to overturning mask mandate