AMES, Iowa– Tuesday night the Ames City Council voted not to include a fine in an ordinance that would require residents to use face coverings in public. Without a penalty, the mayor of Ames says this ordinance is more so a strong recommendation.
“The objective of counsel is we really want to stress the importance of wearing masks in the city of Ames, and really kind of setting a standard and expectation in our community that it’s important to be wearing masks to protect everybody,” Mayor Halia said.
The city’s attorney, Mark Lambert, said it’s rare for the city of Ames to pass an ordinance without a penalty attached.
Last week Lambert advised city council not to draft a mask mandate ordinance, siding with Iowa attorney General Tom Miller.
Miller said citywide mask mandates defy Governor Kim Reynolds’ assertion that counties don’t have the authority to enforce mask mandates.
However, Lambert said there could be a loophole.
“There’s something in Iowa Constitution called the Local Home Rule Authority that says that cities can pass ordinances on any topic they want to as long as it doesn’t conflict with state law,” Lambert explained. “So the legislature can still say, ‘cities, you may not have a law on this. We’re going to have one law for the whole state.’ But they haven’t done that in this situation. It’s not in the Iowa code, telling us that we can’t do this. So, therefore, we have the right to do this.”
Ames City Council will have their first reading for this ordinance in two weeks.