The work of the Alaska Senate is being hamstrung by the leadership’s insistence that all members wear a particular type of face covering during the session.

At the center of the controversy is Sen. Lora Reinbold (R-Eagle River) who has worn a clear face shield for seven weeks, a covering which many senators object to as not being safe enough.

Reinbold entered the House Health & Social Services Committee on March 9, which lead to Rep. Zack Fields (D-Anchorage) to request that she be required to wear a face mask that complies with controversial rules the Legislature has adopted for the current session. Reinbold refused a mask and was ultimately escorted from the room by security.

On March 10, controversy broke out again at the start of the Senate’s morning floor session. It began, as usual, with the opening prayer and pledge of allegiance. Video coverage shows Reinbold in attendance wearing only her clear face shield. Following the pledge, Reinbold left the Senate Chambers.

After a brief at ease, in which Sen. Lyman Hoffman (D-Bethel) and Senate Majority Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) spoke with Senate President Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna), Hughes removed her mask, which is permitted under the current rules, and then asked that Reinbold be excused from the call of the Senate.

Sen. Shelley Hughes asks that Sen. Reinbold be excused from the Senate Chambers on March 10.

This was approved without objection.

A few seconds later, Sen. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak) rose without wearing a mask and made a motion that the Senate enforce its COVID mask policy “on all members on the Senate.” This enforcement includes the use of all Senate space and resources, he said.

“The reason for these policies – protect legislators and staff. All 59 legislators and all staff have complied. Only one is not wearing an approved mask,” he said. “This is a concern to all of us. Staff has expressed fear. Others have talked of early retirement.”

Stevens said Reinbold’s “misbehavior” has taken up valuable time in the Legislature.

“We have reached the point where it must be dealt with,” he said, adding that “Out of respect for our fellow senator we have all spent inordinate amounts of time – many of us trying to reason, making accommodations, trying to provide appropriate CDC masks, and this has always been rejected in favor of a mask that is simply not approved.”

Sen. Gary Stevens complains about Sen. Reinbold’s refusal to comply with the Senate’s mask mandates.

He accused Reinbold of not being properly tested for COVID before entering the Capitol building, a practice which she has resisted.

Stevens said that even if everyone in the building was vaccinated, “we are still a long way off from complete freedom.”

“I suspect that we will need to take great care right up to the last day of this session,” he continued. “There are still dangers out there.”

He noted that “this is a difficult motion for me to make,” and one that he has never in his 21 years in the legislature he has never seen before.

“Through this motion we are allowing the Senate to exclude a senator from this building, an extraordinary action Mr. President – unprecedented but necessary,” he said.

Stevens said Reinbold could return at any time if she agreed to wear an approved mask, test twice weekly and get her temperature taken upon each time entering the building.

The motion stated: “Allow Senate Leadership to enforce legislative council policies in all Senate and common Capitol spaces.” Eighteen senators voted in favor with only Sen. Mike Shower (R-Wasilla) opposed. Reinbold was excused from the vote.

Later in the day Reinbold attempted to hold a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which she chairs.

“I went to Chair Judiciary Committee, with work ready to go and a quorum to conduct business,” Reinbold said on her senate Facebook page. “Unbelievably, Sen Micciche wouldn’t allow the recording secretary or moderator to participate and said Judiciary was cancelled. He then said it was an unsafe work environment. I asked him to describe what was unsafe and he walked out. Is that leadership?”

In a separate post, Reinbold stated that she is “under intense pressure by Senate leadership to follow controversial and arbitrary Legislative Council rules.” She said she does not like anyone being forced to disclose health issues or test results, which she says are protected by HIPPA.

“However, I am wearing a face shield, as I have been for the past seven weeks, even though it is awkward and seems unnecessary,” Reinbold wrote. “I did take another Covid 19 test this weekend, under pressure, and again, I found out this morning it was negative. I have conveyed this, begrudgingly, to leadership. Unfortunately, they may choose to take unnecessary action today. Please note, my stance for protecting personal health information and directing my own health care decisions, in such a public fashion, is very difficult. My actions are to protect my constitutional rights, including civil liberties and those who I represent, even under immense pressure and public scrutiny.”

It is unclear exactly how Micciche will deal with Reinbold moving forward. In addition to chairing the powerful Judiciary Committee, she is also vice chair of both the Senate Legislative Council and State Affairs committees, and she is a member of the Senate Joint Armed Services Committee, the Legislative Budget & Audit Committee and the Health & Social Services Committee. Additionally, she sits on four subcommittees.

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Divisive masking controversy envelopes Alaska Senate

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Michael S Totten says:

    We need a purge in government. Both sides of the isle are RETARDED!. I’m not wearing any mask. No not happening, don’t tread on me!

  • Bob says:

    It is impossible to know what the truth is because there is only propaganda out there. I saw some propaganda from the right a coupe of days ago that said the genius in charge of this covid crap, said that masks are like 2% effective. Wow. Yet so many of the sheep are wearing them as if he said 98%. I live and work in a place where I can easily be run out for being an “outsider” which is of course racist code. I wear a mask to go into the store for that reason. I wear a mask to get on the plane to travel home or back to work because I need this job. Our country is beyond repair I’m afraid.

  • G Aleution says:

    The rights enumerated within the US Constitution may not be infringed or violated by anyone against anyone else regardless of their own current mental reservation or purpose of evasion like requiring others to wear dubious face covering. Mere personal imperiousness or your own health fragility or purpose of evasion does not lay a foundation equal to the law of the land. Not everyone willing is fit to work. They note their mental reservations on the floor. We, the people accept their reservations and ask them to step down at this time. Your health concerns interfere with robust unreserved implementation of budget prep in association with others for the people of Alaska. SENATOR Rhinebolt is robustly and unreservedly willing and able to to perform the task. Others have listed their mental reservations and we construe those stated reservations as a resignation which is accepted at this time.

  • Burt says:

    Reinbold is exposing all these fearful idiots for what they are. Go Lora Go!

    • cali says:

      i agree 100 percent!!! There is no mask mandate and our state gov looks like the ones in DC are just as PATHETIC

  • yeahright says:

    How this nation ever won 2 world wars is beyond me. Grown adults who are supposed to be leaders absolutely cower and quiver in the face of a virus that’s 99.8% survivable. What a sad pack of frightened herd animals.

  • Ed Martin Jr says:

    Stand your Ground make them forcibly remove you ! Your Right to represent your district is constitutionally protected !

  • G Aleution says:

    ote to the rules committee: You don’t have to do. The US Constitution is the laid down law. Reading means reading. Read it aloud at all your meetings and discuss among yourself. If your rules are unconstitutional they are void from inception for effect according to the Constitution. You do not have authority to subsume the Constitutional rights of other citizens without recompensing them for any injury you cause. If you prefer the authority of monarchs, fascists and communists go there. Tyranny is not our form of government in this country. If you are uncomfortable with liberty please resign.

    • G Aleution says:

      I had a problem with posting. Sorry. “Note to Rules Committee. You don’t have that much to do.”

  • Dee Cee says:

    I attended the Alaska Outdoor Council banquet. Senator Shelley Hughes was there. She, like all the other legislators and the Governor, was not wearing a mask. There were very few people in attendance who did wear a mask. I note that she was not cowering the corner in the fetal position with tears rolling down her saggy cheeks because of her intense fear of all the people around her who dared to show their faces with impunity. She feigns “fear” on the senate floor because one senator who doesn’t have covid is refusing to be bullied into wearing a mask, which won’t protect anyone from any illness because no one there actually has the illness. But at the AOC banquet she prances about shaking hands and smiling, and having lovely conversations within 6 feet of the general public with no fear whatsoever… give me a break, Senator Hughes! You’re a drama queen and charlatan on a witch hunt and that’s all you are.

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    It’s all Lies
    Masks are for Loser and they Don’t work.
    Then Just keep 6 feet from Lora. So you can take off your mask and speak at some podium what’s with that?
    So after there meetings they all go out to bar’s restaurant with no mask.
    Wait these people probably wear there masks in there homes by them self.
    Be Afraid be Very Afraid

  • Ross Perrine says:

    I thank God that we have someone in Juneau who has the courage to ask the difficult questions regarding the Covid Narrative and is willing to fight for the Constitutional Rights of All Alaskans!
    Senator Lora Reinbold had every right to ask the Governor and Alaska Dept. of Health & Social Services questions about their Covid Response. Rather then co-operate with a legitimately elected State Senator, the Governor sent her a letter which had the appearance of being a “gag order” to shut her up! Now with the Senate’s Motion against her it makes Alaskans wonder if maybe what they’re afraid of isn’t that she’s wearing the wrong type of mask, but that she might be a threat to their agenda because she hasn’t drunk the prescribed kool aid!

  • Jon and Ruth Ewig says:

    We live in Fairbanks and very much in agreement with Senator Reinbold’s courageous stance. Who decides what is “safe” and what isn’t. The First amendment protects our individual rights yet the majority are ganging up on Senator Reinbold and somebody else especially a leftist, marxist is deciding what is safe. We should all stay home and quarantine until it is SAFE! When it is SAFE is the only time we should come out from our homes. It is not SAFE to go to work. It is not SAFE to work in the legislature. It is not SAFE to be alive. The absurdities the media and left are putting in our faces. Who decides? Social justice or our solid and stable US Constitution that protects the Senator from “mob rule” which is the majority of the committee just following the mob and not allowing for our Individual Rights. That is the democrat/Marxist solution to our Republic. Keep Standing up Senator Reinbold!!! Just today the state of Texas removed all mask restrictions. Alaska needs to follow Texas! Or, let’s all stay home until it is “safe.” When there is no more COVID. Every legislator is out of line who agrees with this move to demonize Senator Reinbold.

    • Kfinh says:

      To be completely honest Alaska never had a real mask mandate. I believe since the beginning of this flu, the governor had always made it clear that he believes Alaskans have the right to choose to wear a mask and not be forced to wear one. And given that choice most Alaskans will do what they think it’s right for them and their family.I might be wrong though because it’s been the longest two week to flatten the curve I’ve ever have to live through. I’m glad other states are beginning to realize how dumb and useless this mask mandate thing is but like I have to state our Governor haven’t been the best at some restrictions but mask tyranny was one he didn’t force. Most of us just don’t know how open the state have been at least from the state government side because a few of us are living in cities and borough run by power hungry tyrants that have been putting their boots on the neck of their subjects. Since we’re also so far from the lower 48 the fake news outlet in Alaska and nationally will never report how great Alaska have been.

  • Fred Lee says:

    Just wear the mask. It’s not complicated. You may not believe the science. That’s OK. You’re allowed to be a flat-earther. Just wear the mask.

    There are real issues facing Alaska. Wearing masks is not one of them. It takes mere seconds to put it on. What is Senator Reinbold trying to prove? There’s nothing “courageous” in her actions. It’s petty politicking. Shame on her.

  • Mary Calisti says:

    I wear a face shield exclusively since learning about them at The Alaska Club. Initially, you could wear them in cardio classes, and you can now wear them throughout the gym — and you have to have a face covering of some type at all times. There have been NO cases of COVID anywhere within any of the TAC facilities since the beginning of this PLANNEDemic. At least with the shield, I can breathe a little better than with the mask — and i can see because my glasses don’t fog.
    A more concerning problem for me is: I have a version of exercise-induced asthma and Vocal Chord Dysfunction (an asthma imitator that throws off doctors even today). Who cares about me and my MEDICAL problems with wearing a face covering of any kind? There are many times, no matter what I’m wearing, that I almost can not breathe. Who cares that I almost pass out when the face covering causes me anxiety triggering “hot flashes” — and the vicious cycle goes round and round. I’m 66, have never been tested, but did get the Pfizer vaccinations because my husband is more concerned (because of our ages) about all of this than I am. Honestly, I believe if you’re in a jeopardized category, or a family member is, protect yourself by whatever means makes you feel secure. But for the love of God, leave those of us who are healthy — and who practice a healthy and safe lifestyle – alone! Really! I CAN NOT BREATHE!

  • Mongo Like Candy says:

    Meanwhile on 650 KENI Dan” the Out of State Man ” Fagan spends an hour vilifying Sen Reinbold with Suzanne Downing calling in to pig pile on the only fighting Conservative we have in Juneau. These RINOs and Party elites disqust me.

  • Patrick Dalton says:

    Masks don’t work folks do your research and get out of your shell! See the following study:
    The Senator has the sense to know this. Too bad more people in Juneau don’t have this kind of practical sense.

  • Steve Peterson says:

    Well, at least she’s not a RINO. She stands her ground and refuses to be a subject. I support her and I am very disappointed with the “conservatives” who take issue with her; read: Dan Fagan.

  • Sick&tired says:

    Grown adults who are supposed to be leaders absolutely cower and quiver in the face of a virus that’s 99.8% survivable. What a sad pack of frightened herd animals. CDC report released masks provide no protection against COVID. It’s a control device.

  • Dave says:

    I have to agree with mongo like candy, Dan Fagan ,Mike Precarro, and unfortunately even Suzi Downing
    Not a real issue, the mask mandate that is? Bull sh*t. The term progressive explains what is happening here. Government is well known for getting the idiots to comply using any and all methods. Break their convictions and will then you can get them to do anything. Laboratory rats.
    Thank you Lora for fighting and enduring on our behalf
    Dave Maxwell

  • Sally Pollen says:

    It would seems a small thing to, “just go with the flow, don’t make an issue of a non issue and put on the particular mandated mask.” But this is EXACTLY how we have lost freedom after freedom over the years. Slowly but surely the conservatives give way to the liberals and, one day we wake up and see our personal rights shredded. I’m proud of Senator Lora Reinbold and Senator Mike Shower, they seem to see that if we give an inch, pretty soon we have given a mile. Conservatives in those two districts should be proud of Lora and Mike; they would probably greatly appreciate your vocal support. I’m in Shelley Hughes’ district.

    • Kfinh says:

      You’re 100% right with this. Our freedom is never fully taken right off the bat because there may be the possibility of a revolt. Instead slowly and steady the tyrants will win the race.

  • Punahele says:

    Good for you Senator… distancing is what works . if I have COVID and sneeze in Alaska, no one in Utah will get COVID from me….why not? Because I am far enough away. The CDC has decided that 6 feet is the appropriate distance for safety. So stay 6 feet away….mask or no mask, according to what you deem necessary for your situation. What happened to common sense? Oh, and plastic, as on a face shield, will stop everything….however, depending on the weave of the fabric, the virus has free access through a cloth mask….like dust through a screen.

  • DoneWithIt says:

    Medicine men, shamans, soothsayers, witch doctors have always demanded that the sheeple perform rituals that protect against a boogeyman. Masks.
    Don’t be a MaskTard – Lora for Governor!

  • Carmen Durham says:

    I am deeply disturbed with the way Senator Reinbold is being treated. Next they will say that you will have to take the experimental vaccine (it is against Federal law to force someone to participate in an experiment of that kind I have been told) to participate in politics.

  • Smooth-Brained MAGAtard says:

    And not a single pixel dedicated to Michiche’s staffer who is fighting for his life in the hospital right now. Qora Reinbold is a disgrace to Alaska and should resign immediately.

    • NorthernMegaWood says:

      Let’s all just take a step back here now folks. We all know those masks don’t do any good. It’s been proven. Look at them under a micron microscope. I’m sure everyone here is sorry to hear about that staffer, that’s the first I heard about him or her and I said a prayer for them I hope they make it through this and have the strength , God willing. I’m pretty sure along with the rest of us here it’s not Laura’s fault they got sick. Laura is just standing up for what she thinks is right right along with the rest of us Americans should also. Let’s all quit pointing fingers and do something about this mess and try to straighten this country up and the rest of world. And one more thing, free speech is more important than your damn feelings.!

      • Kfinh says:

        Plus if I read the previous story right all of them were wearing those “life saving mask” and yet they caught covid. How safe are those mask now?

  • FrontierPreppers says:

    If the vaccinated can still spread the virus and get sick, why is it that only the unvaccinated need to be tested every week?