Park County GOP Says Mask Order is Unconstitutional; Wants it Rescinded

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Members of Park County’s Republican Party are studying a resolution calling for the county’s health officer to rescind the mandatory face mask order that took effect last week.

The resolution to be voted on by the county’s central committee during a Dec. 3 meeting alleges the order is unconstitutional because it was put into place without the input of elected officials.

“Obviously, this was an end run around our elected officials at the sate level, our county commissioners and our mayors and city/town council,” the proposed resolution said. “Furthermore, input from the public was never solicited!”

A copy of the proposed resolution has been delivered to Park County commissioners, but Martin Kimmet, chairman of the Park County Republican Party, said it would remain an unofficial document until it could be reviewed and adopted by the party’s central committee.

The document was signed by Kimmet and other members of the party’s executive committee.

Dr. Aaron Billin, Park County’s public health officer, was one of more than a dozen county health officers to seek state approval for public health orders mandating the use of face masks in public settings.

In a posting to the Park County Health Department’s Facebook page, Billin cited studies concluding that the use of face masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing are powerful tools in preventing the spread of the coronavirus as the reasoning behind his order.

However, Billin sought approval for his health order from Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s public health officer, without consulting elected officials, the proposed resolution said.

The resolution said the party is challenging Billin’s authority to issue the order and asks that he rescind it.

“Should he not, we urge our elected Park County Commissioners to nullify this unconstitutional order, in haste, at their earliest opportunity,” the document said.

Commissioners in several counties, including Uinta, Carbon and Washakie, have said mask mandates requested by their county health officials were submitted for state approval before the commissioners were alerted to the orders.

State law does not appear to require county commissioners to approve public health orders and it specifies that county health officers are under the “direction and supervision” of the state Department of Health.

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