State Senate Republicans push to end Covid mandates and ‘unmask our kids’

Provided photo: State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt speaks at the podium and is joined by back row, from left: Senators Dan Stec, Peter Oberacker and Alexis Weik; Middle row: Senators Sue Serino, Mario Mattera, Mike Martucci, Daphne Jordan, Jim Tedisco, Pam Helming and George Borrello.

Posted 14 February 2022 at 2:06 pm

Press Release, State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt

ALBANY – Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt and members of the Senate Republican Conference today called for an end to unconstitutional mandates promulgated by Governor Kathy Hochul and her Department of Health.

The Republicans announced they would force a vote on the New York Senate floor today to end the mandates.

This vote comes in the wake of the so-called vax or mask business mandate being lifted, but with the mask mandate in schools and childcare centers remaining in place. Children are the least vulnerable individuals with regard to Covid-19, but the most susceptible to psychological damage due to their lives being upended for the past two years.

“School children and toddlers are suffering emotionally,” Ortt said. “Parents and families are at their wit’s end. New Yorkers are just sick and tired of these one-size-fits-all Albany mandates. I vowed to my constituents that I would fight these unconstitutional mandates until every single one is lifted. I intend to keep that promise, and I am proud to stand alongside my fellow Republicans today to force our Democrat colleagues to explain where they stand. It’s time to end the mandates now.”

The Senate Republicans’ proposed amendment will be brought forth by Senator Mike Martucci on the floor of the Senate later this afternoon. The measure would force a vote on unmasking our kids, and dismantling the Governor’s overreaching mandates and restoring checks and balances. This vote is an opportunity to put legislators on the record on how they feel about masking kids while mask mandates almost everywhere else in New York and the nation are being lifted. Every member of the Senate Republican Conference has committed to voting yes on the much-needed measure.

“When Governor Hochul substituted her judgment on masks for the judgment of parents she awakened a sleeping giant,” Martucci  said. “Let’s be clear – all the data shows school-age kids are at far less risk than any other group when it comes to Covid. There is absolutely no reason any child should be forced to wear a mask for seven hours a day in school, especially when that same kid can get a pizza, go to a movie or watch a basketball game mask-free. What makes schools such a hotbed for Covid risk but not an arena? Nothing. This is about control, not about public health. All mask mandates must end now. Let’s restore choice and individual judgment and stop baseless political fear mongering.”

Senate Republicans have been a steadfast voice calling for more checks and balances in state government, and putting an end to the Cuomo-Hochul era of governance by mandates. Last month, the conference called on Governor Hochul to end her one-size-fits-all Albany mandates, and return to fact-based, collaborative governing. Additionally, Leader Ortt has called on the Governor multiple times to unmask our kids.

Last week, Leader Ortt and Senate Republicans penned a letter to the Governor blasting the decision to keep kids masked and calling for metrics for an off-ramp. A representative from the Department of Health later confirmed that they have no “data targets” for ending school masking. On Saturday, Leader Ortt stood with educators and parents in Niagara Falls to reiterate his calls for an end to the child mask mandate.

A key plan in the Senate Republicans “Take Back New York” 2022 agenda – which the Conference has been unveiling since January – is restoring accountability to state government. One of the policies within the plan is to restore checks and balances to the state government.

The amendment will be presented, debated, and voted on in today’s Senate Session.