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Ohio Attorney General Says Columbus Mask Measure Won't Apply To State Lawmakers

Dave Yost speaks at the Ohio Republican Party event, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. Yost was elected as the next Ohio attorney general.
Tony Dejak
Associated Press

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is pushing back on a new Columbus ordinance that requires face coverings in public, saying the requirement can't extend to state lawmakers. 

Ahead of Gov. Mike DeWine’s seven-county mask order, Columbus City Council approved its own face covering ordinance. The measure’s language does not explicitly mention the state capitol, as it does for offices operated by the county.

But unlike federal buildings, it doesn’t exempt the Statehouse either, where the question of wearing a mask has become a partisan issue among state lawmakers.

Still, Yost argues the measure won’t apply to state officials. In emailed statement, Yost says his argument is strictly legal.

“Wearing a mask in public settings is wise and prudent, however local entities do not have the authority to make the Ohio General Assembly wear masks – there’s a separation of power," Yost says.

The Republican-controlled Ohio House and Senate set their own rules, and have so far refused to require face coverings.

It’s unclear whether the governor’s order, which includes Franklin County, exempts state lawmakers from mask wearing requirements. That order takes effect Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.