Arkansas judge dismisses lawsuit brought by legislators challenging virus mandates

Photos: Rep. Nelda Speaks of Mountain Home and Rep. John Payton of Wilburn

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – An Arkansas judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a group of Republican legislators seeking to invalidate a mask mandate and other restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Two local legislators are members of the group. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen on Wednesday ruled that the directives issued by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s administration are within the governor’s authority under state law and legislative rules. The lawsuit filed by 18 GOP lawmakers argued the restrictions required legislative approval. A state representative who led the lawsuit effort said he planned to appeal Griffen’s ruling. Arkansas was among a handful of states that didn’t issue a stay-at-home order.

The group of legislators includes Reps. Nelda Speaks of Mountain Home and John Payton of Wilburn, whose district includes portions of Baxter, Marion, Stone, Searcy and Cleburne counties.

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