7 GOP lawmakers in Maine lose committee posts after police confrontation over mask rules

7 GOP lawmakers in Maine lose committee posts after police confrontation over mask rules
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Seven Republican lawmakers in the Maine House of Representatives lost their committee posts on Monday after they were recorded entering a legislative building without masks despite rules requiring them.

According to The Associated Press, the seven conservative lawmakers lost their committee assignments on Monday over the issue.

The incident that led to the lawmakers losing their assignments was recorded in footage posted to Facebook by GOP state Rep. Laurel Libby. In the footage, she and six other conservative lawmakers could be seen walking into the state house in a group moments before being stopped by an officer.

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“In order to be in the legislative space, your leadership said that you need to wear a mask, so we are asking that you wear a mask,” the officer says in the video.

"After you leave, beyond me, I don’t care what you do, but you can’t go beyond here without wearing a mask," he adds.

"What happens if I do?" one of the men in the group asks the officer.

"Then you go beyond here, and the leadership will be responsible for whatever you do," the officer says.

The video, which is edited, then cuts to one of the lawmakers asking to see the Speaker of the state house, Democratic Rep. Ryan Fecteau.

The Legislative Council, which serves as the state legislature’s administrative body, voted last week to mandate mask wearing for the state house when lawmakers were set to come back to work, the AP reported. 

The rules come as a number of states, including Maine, have rolled back mask mandates after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in updated guidance that people who are vaccinated no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors.

One of the men in the group of maskless lawmakers cites the recent update and the state’s easing of mask requirements to push back on the state house’s mask requirements.

“You may have missed the conversation, but, according to the CDC guidelines and the governor’s mandate, I pose no threat to anyone by not wearing a mask. I’m allowed in public spaces without wearing a mask because I’ve met the conditions,” he says. 

“My mask wearing days are over,” he adds. 

Eventually, the lawmakers can be seen walking past the officers and into the building.

Fecteau reportedly said the rules were made in a show of “respect for our shared workplace.” 

On Monday, the same day Facteau removed the conservative lawmakers from their committee posts, he reportedly warned in a letter to other members of the state house that he “simply will not tolerate attempts to devolve our institution into showmanship and political theater.”