Sioux Falls City Council advances mask proposal, public input change to second readings

Sioux Falls City Council chambers (file photo)
Sioux Falls City Council chambers (file photo)(KSFY)
Published: Nov. 3, 2020 at 11:19 AM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Sioux Falls City Council discussed an emergency ordinance implementing a mask mandate Tuesday night and voted to advance it to a second reading.

Council members Curt Soehl and Rick Kiley are sponsoring the mask mandate, which would require face coverings in all indoor public places where six-foot social distancing is not possible. The proposal comes following weeks of rising cases and hospitalizations in the state.

Mayor Paul TenHaken has long said that while he strongly encourages residents to wear masks but he believes any sort of law requiring them would be “unenforceable.”

In a statement to Dakota News Now, TenHaken said based on what other communities have experienced with mask mandates, “it is likely” that he will not support a similar measure in Sioux Falls. He said while he supports all mitigation measures to slow the spread of the virus, including face coverings, he cannot support government mandates that are “impractical to enforce.”

The council voted 7-1 Tuesday night to advance the proposal to a second reading. The second reading is scheduled for November 10, you can read the full ordinance here.

Curt Soehl, who brought the mandate to the council, cited the need to relieve public health systems and rises in hospitalizations at Avera. If passed Soehl says those who violate the mandate would receive a $50 fine.  He also says Mayor Paul Ten Haken will have the ability to end the mandate when the crisis is deemed past.

Though the first reading passed 7-1, the vote for next week’s second reading will likely be much closer. Councilman Alex Jensen was among those who indicated he would not have voted yes had this been a second reading but welcomes further discussion next week.

Council members also discussed a proposal to change the order of business of City Council meetings, putting off public input until the end of the meeting, immediately before adjournment. Currently, it is held following approval of the regular agenda, towards the beginning of the meeting.

TenHaken sponsored the ordinance. He proposed a similar move early in his tenure as mayor over concerns of decorum following several profanity-laced outbursts during public comment sessions. However, he eventually compromised with city council members who opposed the move.

The public ordinance passed 8-0 and is also scheduled for a second reading on November 10. You can read the full ordinance here.

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