BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — An Alabama lawmaker plans to propose a bill that would ban public schools from issuing mask mandates.
Rep. Andrew Sorrell, R-Muscle Shoals, is supporting the legislation in coordination with a group called “Unmask Our Children,” which provided CBS 42 with the text of Sorrell’s bill.
“Basically, what the bill does is it prohibits mask mandates in K-12 public schools,” Sorrell said.
The bill claims that “masking children may lead to negative health and societal ramifications.” It also says that “forcing children to wear masks could inhibit breathing, lead to the collection of dangerous impurities…and adversely affect communications in the classroom and student performance.”
However, the bill does not prevent students from voluntarily wearing masks.
“They’re welcome to wear a mask,” Sorrell said. “Anyone who’s concerned is welcome to wear a mask. We’re prohibiting a mask mandate, we’re not prohibiting masks.”
The bill is modeled after an executive order issued by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sorrell said, and would reduce school funding for those that violate its provisions. The bill calls for a 5% reduction in Foundation Program funds in the year after a school or district violates the mask mandate ban.
When asked whether preventing mask mandates could negatively impact efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, Sorrell asked a pointed question.
“Where’s the data?” Sorrell asked. “We’ve had corona for over a year now; we’ve had mask mandates. It didn’t seem to stop the spread of COVID. The masks literally say on the box – when you go to Walgreen’s and buy the box it says ‘does not protect against viral and bacterial infection.’ And those are the masks we’re asking kids to wear in school. So why are we having them wear a product when the product itself doesn’t even claim to stop what we’re trying to stop?”
“Everyone in America is fully aware of the risk of COVID,” he said. “There’s tons of information out there on it. People can study and make a decision for themselves. I would be opposed to mandatory vaccines; I’m opposed to mask mandates.”
Sorrell is asking that Gov. Kay Ivey include his bill in any call for a special session of the Alabama Legislature. Regular sessions of the legislature typically begin in January and end around March.
“If I introduce it in regular session, it’s too late,” Sorrell said. “The school year’s almost over at that point.”
A special session will be required to accomplish redistricting later this year, and Sorrell said another special session is “very likely” to deal with the issue of prisons.
“I’m not asking for a ‘special’ special session just for my bill,” Sorrell said. “I’m just asking to include this bill in the call for any of these specials.”
If Sorrell’s bill is not included in a call by the governor for a special session, it would require a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate for passage.
The text of Sorrell’s bill can be viewed below.