Indiana legislators not required to wear masks in Statehouse

Members of the General Assembly will not be required to wear masks while at the Indiana Statehouse next week for the ceremonial start to the legislative session and possibly not for the upcoming four-month session scheduled to start in January.

During the Legislative Continuity Committee meeting on Thursday afternoon, lawmakers rejected a proposal to issue a mask mandate.

Wearing a mask is one of the top recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19. On Thursday, the state hit another record high for daily positive cases, with 6,654 new cases.

Republican state Rep. Matt Lehman, who chairs the committee that was tasked with determining how the Legislature could safely proceed next year, said wearing a mask will be “a strong encouragement.”

“I hope we can do this without that mandate,” Lehman said.

State Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, and state Sen. J.D. Ford, D-Indianapolis, both voiced concerns about not requiring lawmakers to wear masks.

Lawmakers will meet for the first time for what’s known as Organization Day on Tuesday, which is when they will be sworn in and the leaders of each chamber will give remarks.

“Our caucus remains concerned coming into Organization Day,” Ford said.

It’s possible lawmakers could add wearing a mask to the dress codes already established, but those requirements only apply to when someone is on the chamber floor. For example, male legislators are required to wear a jacket and tie on the chamber floor.

State Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, said adding a mask requirement to the dress code would be his preference.

But Ford, who offered the mask mandate proposal during the meeting, said that measure won’t protect anyone else in the building, such as staff, lobbyists, the media or the public, if a lawmaker is walking around without a mask.

“I’ve seen a senator hug a staff member with no mask on,” Ford said.

The Statehouse and the Indiana Government Center South building, which is where the House chamber will operate this year to accommodate social distancing, are both in Marion County, which is under a mask mandate.

But a spokesperson for the Marion County Public Health Department said that order does not apply to state properties or facilities, and referred questions to the state.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, who issued a statewide mask mandate months ago, has already said he won’t interfere with lawmakers.

“They rule their own roost,” Holcomb said in late September when asked about it.

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26 thoughts on “Indiana legislators not required to wear masks in Statehouse

  1. Classic example of “good for thee but not for me” mentality. Newsflash Holcomb, you don’t rule the people either. You are a public servant, nothing more.

  2. What a travesty….embarrassing that adults cannot decide to do what is required and set the example with 100% compliance OR a stiff fine. Have you forgotten that we are in a huge wave of the pandemic? Depressing what a dumb lot of legislators we have…..not just dumb, but no guts, no leadership, no role models.

  3. That’s utter BS… Maybe if they received the same health insurance and care the common folk received, they’d think otherwise.

    Pretty sure its a mandate in all PUBLIC buildings…

  4. Nothing helps reinforce the idea that we’re not the quickest state east of the river quite like our politicians doing moronic things.
    First we start with Gov Holcomb basically saying “everything’s just fine…go about your lives as if the pandemic doesn’t exist”
    Next we add Senator Braun saying that we should ignore California in the election (as if it’s not part of the union).
    Then we add our state congress following Gov Holcomb and acting as if there’s nothing to worry about and creating a concentrated super spreading event…
    I’m just waiting for VP Mikey P to come out and tell the nation that tots and pears are all we need to get past this virus…
    _THEN_ we’ll have definitely earned out Fark tag of “Indiana Dumb”

  5. It is beyond belief that anyone in our local and State governments would allow this total disaster to continue unchecked. The State’s plan is too little and too late. The plan must be more aggressive and thorough. It is totally clear that the current administration does not have the internal medical expertise to make a decent plan to balance both health and the economy simultaneously. It appears that there is no group within our State that be willing to seriously confront the current administration to force it to make significant chances. Healthcare professionals, hospital systems, medical societies, etc. have been eerily silent.

    Even though I have written the following many times before, the basics remain the same. The citizenry of our State have to get the message again and again and again, etc. (Remember how long it took to get people to wear seat belts!!!!!!!!!!! The same craziness against seat belts is being used to avoid masks. Many of the same mistakes were made during the 1918 pandemic as well. Too bad history seems to be avoided in our schools at all levels.)

    New record numbers every day!!!! How many citizens are we going let get sick, and how many are we going let die? It really is as simple as that.
    However, let me try to understand the logic of the State response to the surging pandemic: Stage 5 is okay. Our focus, per Dr. Box, is to increase the amount of healthcare staff and healthcare capacity to take care of the increasing number of sick people. Oh by the way, please wear you mask, pretty please!! (I love it when Health Commissioner, who recently got over COVID-19 episode, has only this to offer to curb the raging pandemic in our State.
    As I have said before our State needs outside expertise (e.g. Dr. Anthony Fauci) to tell us citizens the REAL status of our State’s current plan to mitigate the pandemic of our State. The current “experts” from State outside of government (e.g. IU) have done little more than to create a bunch of numbers that are totally not understood by the common lay person.
    There needs to a ground swell of outrage from the medical community (i.e. hospital, physicians, medical organizations, nursing organization, pharmacists, etc.) to force a change in how our State is handling the pandemic.
    The State has the money to finance, through the Care ACT, to fund a more comprehensively plan to provide all the necessary tools (PPE, testing, contact tracing, etc.) to get the situation under control.
    A responsible government would be able to balance the economy AND public health. Indiana appears not to be able to multi-task. A responsible State government would be able to do both. (As a small business owner, I have lost at least 50% of my income for the year. I know the financial consequences of the pandemic. It took months as the beginning to obtain the necessary amount of PPE to keep my employees and customers safe. I have been able to keep the staff intact as well. However, one does not know what the future will bring)
    Hopefully, with the election over for the State, our local leaders will begin to multi-task. Frankly, I do not expect any progress. With the flu season beginning and with more indoor events, we need to expect that things are just going to get worse.
    Everyone for our State should realize that our current situation was avoidable. Letting things get worse by this State’s administration is UNCONSCIONABLE and INDEFENSIBLE.
    Everyone should re-watch the scene from “NETWORK” where Peter Finch gives a speech that still resonates today. Here is the YOUTUBE link:

  6. Unbelievable from lawmakers and from Governor Holcomb. Do they not understand the seriousness and “following by example! Of course the public health department also takes no responsibility for state facilities. This is so way off for them to not mask up. wOW!

  7. The fact that there is a dress code is so 1990s. To then say they aren’t mandating masks to lead by example, just shows how either totally out of touch our lawmakers are with what is going on in their state, or it shows how much better than everyone else they believe they are. It really is sad.

  8. Refer to article number one as to why mask wearing in the statehouse should be required, as it is in just about every other PUBLIC and private facility in the state.

  9. These people are idiots and deserve what they get. The only good that will come of it is it will likely be mostly republicans that go mask-less and get sick. Though they are needlessly endangering all of the democratic lawmakers and all of the support staff. It’s grandstanding and selfish.

  10. Governor Holcomb, I was really disappointed by the lack of any mandate for churches and now there’s not for our own state lawmakers?

    Lawmakers rejected a proposal to issue a mask mandate for the General Assembly and can rule their own roost? They just aren’t a proponent of leading by example? Do as I say and not as I do?

    You’d like the general public to comply with your orders and you believe this is the way to accomplish that goal? Everyone except churches and state lawmakers should step up and do their part to help our community?

    Our state is in real trouble and our healthcare facilities can barely keep up with demand for beds. I’m married to a physician who is absolutely exhausted from battling this virus month after month. If you aren’t going to require public healthcare measures for everyone in the state, there’s no point to do so at all. This is absurd. Shame on you.

  11. Evidently, the only thing that will “end” Covid is a vaccine. Masks, social distancing, etc is all just window dressing to keep us distracted and thinking we can control this virus. The CDC says you are a “close contact” if you are within 6 feet for 15 min cumulative to a positive case….mask or no mask. Oh yeah…we’ve never successfully developed a vaccine for a coronavirus.

  12. Sometimes you just cannot fix STUPID! And they keep getting elected??? I need to check on who I voted for and make sure I don’t vote for them again.
    Hospitals are full, people are dying, and these idiots continue to do whatever they think their supporters want them to do rather than listen to the experts. Crazy!!!!

  13. Governor – you appoint the state administration which governs care and use of state government buildings. It’s their and your responsibility to keep state buildings clean and safe for all who enter them. There should be a mandate for masks for everyone entering any state government facility with fines for non-wearers who put themselves and everyone else at risk – INCLUDING legislators.

    Legislators in particular return home to their communities throughout the state each week-end – a perfect formula for spreading the virus weekly to every corner of the state, so they have a special obligation to remain infection-free.

    Do the right thing Governor. Even if, and especially if legislators won’t set a good example and be disciplined, you have a greater obligation to safeguard everyone who must share state government air space with them. REQUIRE THE MASKS.

  14. Are you kidding Me?? No masks??
    What happened to lead by example?
    Thanks so much leadership for being part of the problem and not the solution. Real missed opportunity here. Governor, I thought you had been doing a great job for our state with this crisis until about 6 weeks ago. Require The Masks!!

  15. Oh Yea…..FOR THEE AND NOT ME…That great political concept applying to the govt and bureaucrats…
    Whole mask thing is about conformity and power….Open all up and protect those most vulnerable. .For those who are afraid …Stay home locked up…World is not sterile now and wasn’t in past and wont be in future…

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