It was with eager anticipation that Montanans awaited for the controversial mask mandate of his predecessor, Steve Bullock, to be repealed upon Governor Gianforte’s inauguration. After all, members of Gianforte’s COVID-19 taskforce were spreading the rumor that the new governor would strike it with days of being in office. Optimistic anti-mask advocates were convinced it would be within hours.
But to the horror of many, Greg Gianforte’s first act as governor was to hold a press conference saying he would not remove Bullock’s unconstitutional mandate without the legislature acting first to protect businesses from liability in the event they’re sued for not having masks if someone were to contract the virus on their property.
The problem, other than the general lameness of Gianforte punting an executive decision to the legislature on day-one, is that the legislature seems unlikely to pass such a liability law soon given the Democrat-RINO caucus who are – right this second – all virtue-twerking their masks at the Montana capitol. Will the legislators with two masks dressed like a “translucent Darth Vader” be quick to pass a law that would lead to Gianforte scuttling Bullock’s emergency order? Will the Solutions Caucus, behind their masks, get behind Gianforte’s repeal of the mask mandate they’ve spent the last seven months defending?
Why Gianforte expects pro-mask legislators to alley-oop him a bill that would lead to a repeal of the mandate is anyone’s best guess.
Gianforte’s explanation of his punt to the RINO-controlled legislature is that ne’er-do-wells might sue businesses for spreading COVID-19 in the event the businesses dont’ require masks. However, the Big Sky Policy Institute (BSPI) issued a policy brief earlier today demonstrating that the fear was irrational and without empirical evidence.
BSPI wrote, “Currently, 38 county sheriffs have signed onto a letter first published earlier in July, stating that they will not enforce Governor Bullock’s mask mandate. Out of 56 counties across the state, this accounts for 68% of the Montana counties that have already pledged not to enforce the mandate. However, only 6 counties have attempted prosecuting businesses that allow their customers to violate the unconstitutional mask or distancing orders. Out of 56 counties, this means that businesses in at least 88% of the counties in Montana have businesses that run afoul of the order.
“However, statistics can be misleading. Although 6 counties have seen some kind of prosecution against businesses (largely unsuccessful), it’s not an exaggeration to say there are businesses and churches in every Montana county – even where prosecutions have been attempted – who regularly and defiantly break Bullock’s orders.
They continue, “Surely then, there should be ample empirical evidence of the tort liability of businesses and churches who facilitate the spread of COVID-19 by not requiring masks or social distancing. The fear that releasing the mask mandate would make businesses vulnerable to tort liability is irrational, considering most businesses are already violating the mask mandate and not a single one has been sued for spreading COVID-19.”
But according to BSPI, such lawsuits just aren’t occurring. They write, “However, the number of lawsuits successfully brought against any business, church, club, establishment, or individual for spreading COVID-19 in Montana is zero. In short, it has never happened. The only legal harassment businesses have received in Montana for not wearing or demanding masks has been from the Montana Department of Health and Human Services and local health boards.”
The Big Sky Policy Institute went on the examine such lawsuits nationwide and discovered 6 thousand complaints against businesses across the country for not abiding by masking guidelines or for being careless regarding COVID-19, but only 270 lawsuits have been filed. The bulk of these are either against huge corporations like WalMart or Tyson Foods or against nursing home care facilities. Hardly any have been brought against small businesses, and none have led to significant financial rewards.
Read the brief from Big Sky Policy Institute here…