Attorney says Missouri AG using exemption to allow people to disregard masks mandates

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BLUE SPRINGS, Mo — To mask or not to mask. It is becoming confusing based on the back and forth of politicians.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt again challenged Kansas City, Missouri and Jackson County’s mask mandate, this time by a letter.

AG Schmitt wrote letter to KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas and Jackson County Executive Frank White telling them and the public why people don’t have to follow the mask mandates.

Both municipalities have mandates saying people must wear masks in public places with a few exceptions and Schmitt is using those exemptions to negate the mandates.

One of the exemption is for “Persons who have disabilities where face coverings or masks constitute a substantial impairment to their health and well-being based upon medical, behavioral or legal direction.” Attorney Phil LeVota pointed out he last part, which he said Schmitt  is trying to use to allow people to disregard the mandates.

“He’s trying to say under the city ordinance, you can follow a legal direction and he’s giving you legal direction. I think he’s going out on a limb by doing that,” LeVota said.

In his letter Schmitt also digs into the meaning of “substantial impairment.” Part of what he said is that, “…any minor who experiences any significant diminishment of their happiness, health or mental and physical well being has suffered a substantial impairment …”. It is something Schmitt believes children suffer by wearing masks in school.

“So the attorney general sends this letter out and says, ‘I direct everyone not to follow it,'” LeVota said. “He’s acting like he’s everyone’s lawyer and the problem is, he’s the lawyer for the State of Missouri he’s not the lawyer for individual people.”

Lucas and White released a statement that said the AG’s letter has no legal impact and makes no sense. LeVota agreed, calling Schmitt’s letter political grandstanding. The Missouri Legislature gave cities and counties the legal authority to mandate masking under emergency orders to protect the public. Schmitt does not have the authority to overrule them. That is the job of a judge and why the attorney general filed a lawsuit against Kansas City, Missouri and Jackson County.

“That’s what the attorney general is suing about and that’s what the judge will decide. Is this an overreach by the city of Kansas City and Jackson County by making people do it? Can they do it? But we are not there yet, so the law still exists that the city can do it until a judge would say different,” LeVota said.

Jackson County is actively enforcing its masking policy. In fact, it closed down a Blue Springs restaurant Friday.

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