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North Dakota Legislature overrides veto of mask mandate bill

April 22, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Legislature voted Thursday to override Gov. Doug Burgum’s veto of a bill that would prohibit state officials from mandating face coverings.

Representatives voted 66-27 to override the second-term Republican governor. Sixty-three House votes were needed to provide a two-thirds majority. The Senate voted 32-15 to override the veto. Thirty-two votes were needed in the chamber for a required two-thirds majority.

The bill received broad support in both chambers in the Republican-led Legislature, with a 67-24 vote in the House and a 30-17 vote in the Senate.

In his veto message Wednesday, Burgum said North Dakota law assigns the governor the responsibility to “minimize or avert the adverse effects of a disaster or emergency.”

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“To strip future governors and their state health officers of any low-cost tool that might be used to save lives and livelihoods in a future pandemic or other emergency would be both irresponsible and unnecessary risk to the future public health and well-being of North Dakota citizens,” Burgum wrote.

Bill sponsors have argued there was no proof that masks work to slow the spread of the coronavirus and they questioned the government’s role in mandating them.