Rep. Mary Franson forced to wear mask while speaking on House floor

Over in the Senate, at least three DFL senators hugged outgoing Sen. Jeff Hayden, who was not wearing a mask at the time.

Screenshot from Minnesota House live webcast

During a Monday House floor session, Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, was forced to put a mask on before she could continue speaking.

Franson spoke for a few minutes without wearing her mask but was forced to put it back on by House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, who did not wear a mask during a similar situation on Sept. 11. House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, had apparently issued a decorum memo ahead of the Monday session, asking lawmakers to wear masks at all times on the floor.

Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, DFL-Roseville, also objected to Franson’s lack of a mask, saying she was “concerned about the staff standing” next to Franson.

Franson, however, pointed out that there was “nobody around” her.

The New House Republican Caucus shared a video on Facebook of the incident, calling it “a perfect example of ‘mask bullying’ by Democrat leadership and members of the Minnesota House.”

“She is over six feet away from other members, and the Legislature isn’t even required to follow the governor’s mask mandates. Nevertheless, they won’t let her speak until she has a mask covering half her face,” the post said.

In the video, Franson can be seen taking off her mask and saying, “I can’t really talk with it on right now. My anxiety is getting to me over this whole situation.” She was brought a clean mask but declined to wear it while debating. No one was close to her in the room, and she was actively speaking the entire time she had her mask off.

Franson spoke for approximately 10 minutes about the absurdity of the lockdowns and mask mandate in Minnesota, giving insight into the economic devastation the lockdown has caused.

“Since the mask mandate has been put into place, cases have risen. They have not gone down. Since the mask mandate was put into place, COVID cases are up 60%,” Franson noted.

Winkler then rose and asked to give “a point of order.” He said that earlier Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia, spoke “briefly without a mask on the floor, and no point of order was raised.”

“Rep. Franson is abusing that mild discretion that was provided, and she should put on a mask if she wants to continue her debate,” he continued.

Nash was not wearing a mask earlier in the debate, to which no one said anything.

Franson took to Twitter to share her thoughts, writing, “Democrat science says one can sit at a restaurant with up to 10 people with no mask on. Democrat science says a lawmaker (me) can’t speak on the House Floor without a mask on when no one is around her. I love Democrat science. Control is the science.”

Franson also tweeted photos of Winkler speaking at the fourth special session, which took place on Sept. 11. Winkler is not wearing a mask in any of the three photos she shared.

“What House floor mask science has changed between 09/11/20 and 10/12/20,” she asked.

Over in the Senate, at least three DFL senators hugged outgoing Sen. Jeff Hayden, who was not wearing a mask at the time.

Lawmakers returned to St. Paul Monday for the fifth special session of the year so that Gov. Tim Walz could extend his COVID-19 peacetime emergency. They will be back in session Wednesday to discuss a bonding bill.