Special session to amend Act 1002; “We just don’t see the support here in the legislature.”

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FARMINGTON, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Some local lawmakers say it is not looking good for mask-related legislation.

A special session called by Governor Asa Hutchinson began Wednesday to potentially amend Act 1002, which bans state and local mask requirements.

State Senators Greg Leding (D-4) and Jim Hendren (I-2) said amending Act 1002 does not seem to have much support on either sides of the chambers.

“Parents, teachers, overwhelmingly want to see Act 1002 amended, but for whatever reason we just don’t see the support here in the legislature,” Leding said.

House Bill 1003 was introduced Wednesday to amend 1002 and allow schools to mandate masks based on certain criteria, but a vote is now delayed for the bill to be reexamined.

“I think it’s, again, still a very high hurdle to get legislators to do politically unpopular things and that’s really what we’re asking them to do,” Hendren said.

Local school districts have been meeting to discuss whether or not to mandate masks if the law is amended.

Farmington Superintendent Jon Laffoon said the district is waiting to decide until lawmakers take a vote.

The district, however, is accepting input from parents on where they stand with masking in schools.

“Out of almost 800 responses, it was 50/50, so some felt very strongly to mask their students and some didn’t,” Laffoon said.

Hendren and Leding said they expect the special session to be over by Friday. They said they are losing confidence that any mask-related legislation will pass before the new school year.

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