Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson speaks from a podium during a news conference

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson Now Wishes He Hadn’t Banned Masks After All

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Back in March, Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson announced that the state’s mask mandate would be coming to an end. He also said that once the statewide mandate ended, cities wouldn’t be able to enforce their own mask mandates, although there was some confusion around that point.

Hutchinson later walked that back, allowing cities and school districts to set their own rules. But the state legislature (which leans further to the right than the fairly moderate governor) then stepped in and passed an act stripping everyone (except private businesses) of the right to implement mask mandates within the state.

Now, with cases on the rise and hospitals filling up, Hutchinson is having some regrets. “In hindsight,” he said during a press conference Tuesday, “I wish that had not become law.”

That’s some Olympic-level use of the passive voice coming from the man who signed the bill into law.

Hutchinson is especially remorseful for banning schools from implementing mask mandates, seeing as most school-aged children are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine and that whole “kids can’t catch the virus” thing that a lot of conservatives were pushing for much of the pandemic turned out to be complete BS.

The governor is asking the general assembly to call a special session to amend the law to allow schools to decide their own rules regarding masks.

In that press conference, Hutchinson explained that he lifted the mask mandate (and supported forbidding all others) because at the time, “cases were at a very low point” but that “everything has changed now.”

Once again, the passive voice is meant to deflect from the fact that things have changed because he and state lawmakers changed them. Cases were decreasing when masks were required and then rose after masks were all but banned outright. Who could have possibly seen that coming?

Hutchinson’s regrets are meaningless. Not only are they too late, but they are far too little, as it’s unlikely the state legislature can/will even do anything to lift the ban.

Senate President Jimmy Hickey told The Hill, “My issue is it’s real close that we would even have the majority right now.” The outlet notes that “Both chambers in the legislature would need a two-thirds vote to lift the ban before school starts, while a simple majority means the ban wouldn’t be lifted for 90 days.”

Hutchinson’s hindsight here is 20/20 but it’s also pointless. Although I suppose things could always be worse. He could be going the route of Ron DeSantis down in Florida:

(image: screencap)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.