New Hampshire Republican Governor Vetoes Mask Mandate Ban Legislation

New Hampshire Republican Governor Vetoes Mask Mandate Ban Legislation
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu speaks during a ceremony in Manchester, N.H., on Sept. 2, 2020. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images for DraftKings)
Alice Giordano

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, vetoed legislation on May 20 that would ban public school mask mandates.

“I was shocked, really shocked,” state Rep. Melissa Blasek, a Republican and the measure’s sponsor, told The Epoch Times. “I 100 percent assumed this bill was a done deal.”

Blasek said H.B. 1131 was so popular that it drew a huge crowd of parents during one of the state’s worst snowstorms to a hearing in support of it.

She called Sununu’s veto “a huge political misstep” that “pacified the left” while “alienating parents on the right and in the middle.”

Many state Republicans reacted similarly on social media. State Rep. Leah Cushman, the Republican who led the legislation to make human-grade ivermectin available without a prescription in New Hampshire, posted on Facebook that Sununu’s veto of the statewide mask ban in public schools was “disgraceful.”

“Our Republican-majority house has been kicking butt all session despite the slim majority and members who vote like Dems, only for the senate and governor to kill it all,” Cushman said.

New Hampshire Republicans said they were especially stumped by the veto since Sununu held a press conference in February with the state’s epidemiologist, Dr. Benjamin Chan, announcing that his administration was calling upon schools to end mask mandates.

Asked then if his call to end school mask mandates was an option or a mandate to schools, Sununu said that “ultimately those policies really have to move.” He also promised that the New Hampshire Department of Education “will move any of the remaining districts to get their policies where they need to be to ensure that everyone can attend school without a mask.”

In a statement explaining the reason for his veto of the House- and Senate-supported legislation proposing a ban on school mask mandates, Sununu said it’s important to preserve local governments’ decision-making authority.

“Just because we may not like a local decision, does not mean we should remove their authority,” Sununu said in a statement. “One of the State’s foremost responsibilities is to know the limits of its power. As Granite Staters, we take pride in local control and our bottom-up approach to education. Similar to our fight to retain states’ rights against a bloated and ever-encroaching federal government, we have a responsibility to ensure the State minimizes its infringement on local control.”

JR Hoell, a founder of the Republican political watchdog group RebuildNH, told The Epoch Times that he finds Sununu’s position to be hypocritical.

“For someone who single-handedly ruled the entire state via executive fiat for over a year, issued 21 consecutive executive orders regulating every public and private entity, to then say that one of the foremost responsibilities of a state is to know its limit of power is the ultimate in hypocrisy,” said Hoell, who’s also a former state representative.

Sununu has had his share of political conflicts. Earlier this year, he was accused by Republican party leaders of orchestrating the arrest of eight citizens who had previously protested his push for the state to take federal money to promote the COVID-19 vaccine.

Nationally, Sununu won criticism among party pundits for calling former President Donald Trump “[expletive] crazy.”

However, according to a recent poll, the three-term governor, who’s up for reelection this year, remains one of the most popular governors in the United States.