No face mask rule for Indiana lawmakers despite virus spread


FILE – In this March 11, 2020 file photo, Rep. Don Lehe, R-Brookston, speaks during an Indiana House session at the Statehouse in Indianapolis. Indiana lawmakers are preparing to move much of their 2021 legislative session activity out of the Statehouse over coronavirus concerns. A joint House-Senate committee on Wednesday, Sept. 9 endorsed a plan aimed at allowing the 100-member House hold its floor sessions and committee meetings in the auditorium and conference rooms in a state office building next to the Statehouse in downtown Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Tom Davies File)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers won’t be compelled to wear face masks as they meet next week at the Statehouse for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic was first sweeping across the country in March.

The Legislature’s organizational meeting set for Tuesday will occur as the state’s rates for COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations have soared in recent weeks and a statewide mask mandate issued by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has been in effect since July.

The Republicans on a joint House-Senate committee on Thursday voted down a proposal from a Democratic lawmaker for rules enforcing a face mask policy.

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