Wichita passes mandatory face mask ordinance

Wichita mayor Brandon Whipple called a special meeting of the City Council on Friday to discuss and vote on a city ordinance mandating the use of face masks in public.

Following a four hour session that began at 2:00 p.m. the council voted 4 - 3 in favor of the ordinance, which begins immediately.

The city ordinance is different from what the Sedgwick County Commission voted on this week.  Commissioners voted not to make wearing a mask in public mandatory, but instead recommended the public do so. This city ordinance is similar to what Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued, with a few differences.

Officials said there is a fine in place for not wearing a mask. First violation is $25, second is $50 and third is $100 with courts costs associated with each violation.

Councilman James Clendenin pointed out that the Kansas Attorney General has already given an opinion about the governor handing off the authority to individual counties for decision making.

“We did not have the authority to pass this law,” said Clendenin. “The state leaves that authority to the county. And I asked for an attorney general opinion on that fact. I am hoping he will rule soon,” he added.

City of Wichita attorney Jennifer Magana told the council that the ordinance could still be challenged in court, but she believes the ordinance is legal as it is written.