The nine members of the West Lafayette city council voted unanimously on Tuesday to reinstate the monetary fines associated with Mayor John Dennis’ July 13 mask mandate.
This ordinance comes after Tippecanoe County Circuit Court Judge Sean Persin’s Sept. 1 ruling that Dennis’ executive order constituted executive overreach due to its monetary fines. The ruling was issued after a lawsuit from West Lafayette resident Michael Bryant challenged the fines as unconstitutional, while also arguing that it limited his personal freedoms.
Although legislation that institutes fines is ordinarily subject to two separate readings, according to city attorney Eric Burns, the council voted unanimously to suspend this rule and offer both readings in one meeting.
The meeting was hosted via WebEx, each councilor calling in to participate, and the ordinance was not open for public comment except for emails sent in by residents.
The council’s ordinance was also amended to place the mask matter under review of the council every six months in order to determine its future status. The mandate charges $100 for first offenses of failure to adhere to mask-wearing policies in most public and private spaces, and $250 for each subsequent offense.
Several council members voiced their support for the ordinance, citing the need to protect others for the health and safety of the community. The day the order was voided, District 1 city councilor Nick DeBoer said that a replacement would be enacted at the next city council meeting — a promise that came to fruition Tuesday night.
Dennis thanked the council and members of the West Lafayette community for their voluntary support of the order.