An Alaska lawmaker who is banned from flying on the state’s leading airline for refusing to wear a mask was excused from attending floor votes for the rest of the year after telling legislative leaders she has no way to fly to and from the state capital.
State Sen. Lora Reinbold, a Republican representing an Anchorage suburb, said this week that Alaska Airlines offered the only flights between her district and Juneau from now through the end of the year. The airline banned her indefinitely in April after she clashed with staffers over the airline mask mandate issued by federal transportation officials.
Reinbold has been one of the Alaska legislature’s most vocal opponents of masking and other public health mandates since early in the pandemic. She has used committee hearings to criticize Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s pandemic rules and promotes misinformation about masking and vaccines on her Facebook page. She refused to don a mask in the legislature, instead wearing a clear shield over her face.
The action involving Reinbold comes as Alaska, like other states, is facing a sharp rise in infections. Average daily caseloads in the sparsely populated state topped 600 this week for the first time since the winter surge, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.