An Alaska lawmaker asked to be exempted from legislative sessions until next year, saying she had no way of getting to the state capital after being banned from Alaska Airlines for violating mask policies.
Lawmaker Lora Reinbold, Senator of the Republican State, was captured on video in April, arguing with employees at Juneau International Airport over mask rules.
After the confrontation, Alaska Airlines said it informed Ms Reinbold that she “was not permitted to fly with us for her continued refusal to comply with employee instructions regarding the current mask policy.”
Ms Reinbold had previously complained about Alaska Airlines on Facebook, saying it was “part of the tyranny of masks.”
She was also reprimanded by Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, who accused her of spreading misinformation about the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and of “abdicating them. principles of your oath as a public servant ”.
Speaking to the Alaska State Senate on Thursday, Ms Reinbold asked that she be excused from Senate business from September 11 to January 15 “because there is no airline other than ‘Alaska Airlines serving Juneau during this time that I’m aware of.
“The political ban is still in effect as long as Biden’s illegitimate mask mandate is in place in private and public transportation,” she told her colleagues.
The Republican-led Senate accepted her request without objection and said it would be presented as “excused on these dates.”
Ms. Reinbold represents Eagle River, Alaska. If she can’t fly, a trip from her district to Juneau, the state capital, could require her to travel more than 19 hours by car and ferry, and across the Canadian border.
Alaska Airlines said on Saturday that Ms Reinbold was informed on April 24 that she was not cleared to fly on the airline.
“Since then, a review has taken place and the suspension has been upheld,” the airline said in a statement. He added that the suspension would remain in effect “as long as the federal mask policy is in place.”
Referring to a previous statement from April, Alaska Airlines said, “Federal law requires that all guests wear a face mask over their nose and mouth at all times during travel, including throughout the flight, when traveling. boarding and disembarking, and when traveling through an airport. “
On Thursday, Ms Reinbold defended her request to be excused from Senate business.
“Being excused does NOT mean you won’t be here, it means the legislative process cannot be inhibited if you are not there,” she wrote on Facebook.
If the only major airline offering flights to Juneau “can unconstitutionally prevent the ability of lawmakers to get to the capital safely and quickly,” she added, “it could undermine our representative republic.”
Last month, the Transportation Security Administration announced it was extending the requirement that travelers to the United States wear masks at airports, on planes, and on commuter buses and trains until January 18.
Mask warrants have become a major flashpoint on planes, contributing to an upsurge in unruly and sometimes violent behavior from passengers who refuse to comply.
The TSA first announced in February that everyone – except children under 2 and people with disabilities – would be required to wear masks on planes and at airports across the United States. The agency has received more than 4,000 mask incident reports since then.
President Biden announced on Thursday that the agency would double fines for travelers who refuse to wear masks at airports and on commercial planes. The minimum sentence for first-time offenders has been raised to $ 500. Second-time mask refusals can be fined up to $ 3,000.
“If you break the rules, be prepared to pay – and by the way, show respect,” Biden said.
In the video which was posted to Twitter in April, Ms Reinbold is seen at the Juneau airport, wearing a mask but arguing with employees about it.
“We need you to put the mask back on, or I won’t let you take the flight,” an employee told Ms Reinbold.
“It’s over,” Ms. Reinbold replies.
“It is not,” said the employee. “It’s below your nose. We can’t have it.
It was not clear whether Ms Reinbold had been allowed to take the flight. One of the videos shows her leaving the boarding area.
In March, Ms Reinbold said on Facebook that she had been asked to leave a committee hearing because she was not wearing an approved face shield. After that, Ms Reinbold was banned from the State Capitol until she complied with health and safety protocols. She then returned to the Capitol with a clear face mask.
“My actions are aimed at protecting my constitutional rights, including civil liberties and those I represent, even under immense pressure and public scrutiny,” Ms. Reinbold wrote in March.
She did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday.