Alaska state senator drove 750 miles, took ferry after airline ban over mask
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An Alaska lawmaker banned by Alaska Airlines over its mask policy drove 750 miles with her husband and then took an hours-long ferry to make it to the state’s capital to vote on a divisive disaster bill.
State Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, discussed her two-day trek Monday with radio host Tom Anderson, saying she drove for more than 14 hours from her home north of Anchorage through Alaska — and even parts of the Yukon Territory — before taking a ferry into Juneau.
“I will tell you that I reached new heights in getting back here to Juneau,” Reinbold said Monday. “My husband on his birthday weekend, he’s my knight in shining armor, he drove with me. We got through Canada, got on a ferry and I got in last night.”
Reinbold said she then took a four- or five-hour ferry trip from Haines into Juneau and had “no issues” at the Canadian border.
The lawmaker managed to reach the Senate floor at the state Capitol early Monday, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Reinbold said she was determined to get back to Juneau to voice her opposition to Alaska House Bill 76, which would renew Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s public health emergency declaration from January through September.
“There was nobody that was going to get in my way with House Bill 76,” Reinbold told Anderson.
If passed, the bill would give the state’s commissioner of health and social services power to declare an emergency during the coronavirus pandemic. Reinbold urged constituents to call “every single legislator” to tell them to vote no on the bill.
The bill has passed the state’s House, but faces a tough road in the Senate, where Republicans have a 13-7 majority, Daily Mail reports.
Reinbold told reporters Monday that “Juneau never looked so good” upon the couple’s arrival. The capital is only accessible via air or water and Alaska Airlines is the lone commercial carrier that offers flights from there to Anchorage.
Alaska Airlines said Saturday that Reinbold had been banned, effective immediately, for her “continued refusal” to obey its mask policy.
Video posted to Twitter Thursday appeared to show a masked Reinbold speaking to staffers at Juneau International Airport after a disagreement over face coverings, where she appeared to film employees as they discuss the matter.
The suspension is “pending further review” and it’s unclear how long it may last.
Reinbold, meanwhile, said the timing of her ban was “very interesting” and claimed that she asked an Alaska Airlines employee about its mask policy and was met with an “uptight employee” in a completely “unprovoked” fashion.
“It was interesting how it all played out,” Reinbold told Anderson, adding that she learned about the ban on Saturday. “I just got an email. It blew it me away that they wouldn’t even get my side of the story.”
Reinbold said she wore a mask on the flight despite an exemption.
“This story is really getting a different portrayal that what actually happened,” she told Anderson. “But I will tell you there’s a lot of red flags and we will be looking into it.”
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