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Rep. Bailey refuses to wear mask during session, removed from arena
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Rep. Bailey refuses to wear mask during session, removed from arena

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State Rep. Darren Bailey talks with protesters outside the Bank of Springfield Center after he was removed by a House vote for refusing to wear a face covering during the session going on inside the arena May 20.

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House voted Wednesday afternoon to remove Republican State Rep. Darren Bailey, of Xenia, from session at the Bank of Springfield Center after he refused to comply with a facial-covering requirement in newly-adopted House rules.

In a bipartisan vote, the Illinois House adopted rules Wednesday that include a requirement for members, staff members and visitors to the special session to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth, if they are medically able to do so.

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Democratic Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, of Hillside, made a motion to remove Bailey from the House proceedings after Bailey responded “I will not,” when he was asked to come into compliance with the face covering requirement in the newly-adopted rules. The House voted 81-27 in favor of Bailey’s removal.

Divisions among House Republicans emerged over the face-covering requirement.

Prior to session reconvening after caucus on Wednesday, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, of Western Springs, spoke for several minutes with Bailey. Durkin wore a mask during their conversation, Bailey did not.

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When the House returned to session, Durkin urged all members to comply with the new rules.

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“We cannot ignore nor compromise the health and safety of every member of the General Assembly, their family members, every one of our staffers who works tirelessly for us,” Durkin said.

The exception to the new face covering rule for the special session is when members are eating or drinking, and then it is recommended they stay at their individual table.

Lawmakers returned to Springfield on Wednesday for the first time since March 5. The House is meeting in the downtown arena, the Senate in the Senate chamber at the Capitol.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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