Eagle River Republican Sen. Lora Reinbold’s continual violations the capitol building’s masking requirements, which have ranged from wearing an unapproved plastic face shield to removing her mask to either complain about tyranny or discomfort, have left many wondering if there was any teeth to the legislature’s policies.
Last week we got the answer when the Senate’s Rules Committee Chairman Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, hit Reinbold with a $250 fine for what he told the Anchorage Daily News was an “egregious” violation of the Legislature’s rules. In a Facebook post last week, Reinbold announced the fine and said she took off the mask “in protest to children being forced to wear masks, that is negatively impacting their mental health.”
The $250 fine is the penalty prescribed for the first offense of not wearing a mask in the capitol building and is, to the best of our knowledge, the first time that such a fine has been levied in the building despite Reinbold’s repeated refusal to follow the masking rules. Repeat fines escalate to $500 per violation.
Instead of wearing the CDC-approved cloth face coverings, which are intended to limit the spread of exhaled droplets that may carry the virus, Reinbold has worn a plastic face shield. Her antics have also included telling members of one committee that masks were optional (they’re not) and being removed from several hearings for refusing to wear a proper mask. The removal from a House committee hearing prompted the Senate taking measures to exclude Reinbold from committee hearings until she would wear a proper mask, which seems to be a similar plastic face shield with padding at the top and bottom.
At the time of her exclusion, Stevens said the Senate had been more than accommodating to Reinbold.
“We can no longer abide the behavior. We have tried to dissuade her, offer her easier ways out than we have offered others all to no avail,” he said. “The time has come for decisive action, none of us want to take it but we must for the safety of all of us.”
Along with using Facebook and committee hearings to complain about the masking, Reinbold has also been a vocal critic of the state’s efforts to navigate its way through the pandemic. She’s also spread false or misleading information about the vaccine and the state’s pandemic response, which culminated in a scathing letter from Gov. Mike Dunleavy accusing her of spreading lies about his handling of the pandemic.