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Lawmaker Reprimanded For Not Wearing Mask On House Floor

Maine Legislature
Robert F. Bukaty
The Maine State House is seen at sunrise, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

Paris Rep. John Andrews, the only Libertarian in the Maine House, was reprimanded for his refusal to wear a face covering on the House floor. Andrews told the House Ethics Committee that his was an act of civil disobedience.

Legislative leaders have required the use of a face covering in any public area within the Capitol Building. After Andrews went on the floor of the House Wednesday and refused to wear one, House Speaker Ryan Fecteau convened a meeting of the House Ethics Committee. Andrews told the committee that he is vaccinated and that the House should be following CDC guidelines, not a policy adopted over a year ago.

“This is civil disobedience for a large portion of Maine citizens who want to get back to normal. I believe I am acting extremely ethically by standing up for what I and my constituents believe,” Andrews said.

But Ethics Committee members voted to send him a letter of reprimand for violating the policy. Andrews said he does not want to delay legislative action, which effectively means he has agreed not to enter the House chamber and cast votes without a mask.

“Do you agree that it would be appropriate for us to give you a reprimand?" asked Brunswick Rep. Ralph Tucker, chairman of the committee questioning Andrews.

"That’s not my call but I think it would be within the scope of your duties," Andrews said.