Horowitz: Arkansas governor threatens to veto bills permanently banning mask mandates, vaccine passports


Coming off his veto of the bill barring chemical castration for minors, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) is now threatening to veto a bill in the legislature that would ban the state government from ever criminalizing human breathing again. I guess Asa believes there is a right for minors to seek and doctors to perform castration, but no right to breathe without a Chinese face burka.

On March 31, the Arkansas Senate passed HB 590, which would permanently bar the governor or any state official from ever instituting a mask mandate. The bill passed with overwhelming support, and the senators voted to make it effective immediately. Last Thursday, the House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee recommended that the full House pass the bill as well. The Senate bill is sponsored by Sen. Trent Garner, and the House bill is sponsored by Rep. Joshua Bryant.

With such overwhelming support from the supermajority Republican-controlled legislature, one would expect that a governor who speaks of Reagan and Buckley and claimed to suspend the mask mandate himself would enthusiastically sign the bill. However, at the time it passed the Senate, Mr. Conservative Governor promised to veto it. “The bill is pointless, except it would prohibit private businesses, schools and hospitals from requirements for face coverings,” Hutchinson said in a statement after the vote. “This is not a good idea, and I would veto the bill in its current form.”

Putting aside the fact that it is not conservative to allow businesses to violate basic human rights at a time when we apply anti-discrimination, ADA, and OSHA laws to every other health issue, this bill doesn’t even bar private businesses from imposing their own mask mandates. It only applies to the governor and his departments or other state and local governmental actors, and the new version from the House committee explicitly states that it doesn’t apply to private businesses. Yet the governor still had his agency folks testify against the bill. “The department of health officials under Gov. Hutchinson were the only