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Masks are ‘optional’ at Kansas Statehouse, GOP lawmakers say

Coronavirus in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — On Thursday, top Kansas lawmakers said masks are “optional” in the Kansas Statehouse, pushing back at Governor Laura Kelly’s mask order for state employees.

The Legislative Coordinating Council met to discuss several agenda items, including clarifying the Governor’s issued mask requirements in state buildings.

Senate President Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, said he’s heard from several people confused over whether they should wear a mask in the capitol building.

Sen. Masterson noted that while masks may be recommended, people can decide whether to wear them, arguing that the legislature controls most of the statehouse.

“It’s this committee that controls this building, and we have given areas to the governor, to the library, and she has authority over those,” Masterson said. “Although we would recommend masks, it is not a mandate. It is optional for visitors to participate in this building.”

However, some Democrats believe that people should do everything to stay safe, especially as the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread.

Health officials have warned that the delta variant is more than twice as infectious as other strains of the virus. As of Thursday, state data shows 1,911 cases of the variant have been identified in Kansas.

“The delta variant is spreading quickly, and if you see in Kansas we have a lot of areas that are in the red area,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Tom Sawyer, D-Wichita. “The infection rate has really picked up. We need to do what we can to try to help reduce the spread.”

Watch the full LCC meeting below:

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