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Jackson County commissioner wants to ban mask and vaccine mandates

Posted at 11:06 AM, Oct 16, 2021

JACKSON, Mich. — Jackson County Commissioner Tony Bair hascrafted a resolution that would ban mask and vaccine mandates, vaccination passports and mandatory COVID testing.

The reason? According to the resolution, it's to support a free citizen’s right to self-determination and parents’ rights to decide what is best for their own children and to “restore constitutional freedoms” to Jackson County.

Bair declined to comment on the resolution, but Commissioner Corey Kennedy says it's important.

“It’s about protecting people’s constitutional rights,” he said. “People should have the freedom to choose when it comes to their medical decisions. The county’s not taking away vaccinations. In fact, we have it set up in multiple places where the public can come and get vaccinated, and we also have places to get boosters. We don’t want to force people to do something that they don’t want to do. That’s a personal decision for one’s self and their family.”

Commissioner Daniel Mahoney said he wasn’t surprised by the resolution. He received plenty of e-mails from citizens letting him know their opinion of mask mandates in schools. But he has some concerns about the legality of this resolution.

“In my opinion, as county commissioners, when we pass a resolution, it should be factually based. It’s not something that we can actually enforce,” Mahoney said.

He said businesses should have the right to institute mandates if they see fit.

“My comment to the other commissioners is this is the same thing as saying, 'No shirt, no shoes, no pants, no service.' No mask, no service is their rules. It’s their establishment. They have the right to make those types of rules of COVID or not. To recommend that our law enforcement put incidences that are COVID related last priority on the list is just flag out wrong,” Mahoney said.

Data from the state of Michigan shows, as of Oct. 13, Jackson County’s test positivity rate was at 15 percent and has been rising for three weeks. The statewide rate was just over 12 percent.

“I’m interested in seeing a different attorney take a look at this to look at what we are potentially putting ourselves at risk for and what type of ramifications can come from us passing something like this. How can we be held responsible if we pass this and somebody takes it as a law and then another outbreak happens? That’s my biggest concern,” Mahoney said.

The Jackson County Health Department did not respond to requests for comment.

Jackson County Commissioners passed a resolution in 2020 that said the Jackson County sheriff and the prosecuting attorney should not enforce against any citizen an “unconstitutional prohibition as a result of this pandemic.”

Those words are echoed in this resolution. It would direct the county administrator, a position currently held by Michael Overton, to notify department heads that no money or resources are to be expended for enforcement of or pressured compliance with any order regarding COVID-19.

It says no money is to be used for the arrest and prosecution of any person accused of violating emergency orders regarding COVID-19. They “encourage the Sheriff’s Department and Prosecutor’s Office to uphold their oaths of office to support the Constitution and make this the lowest priority.”

“It’s a lot harder to fight for your freedoms once they’re gone. That is the fight for why you still have them. That’s really the point of this resolution,” Kennedy said.

The board is set to vote on the resolution at their meeting on Tuesday.

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