Phoenix Nursing Students Say Vaccine Mandate Violates Faith in Ongoing Lawsuit

Phoenix Nursing Students Say Vaccine Mandate Violates Faith in Ongoing Lawsuit

By Corinne Murdock |

Two nursing students, Emily Thoms and Kamaleilani Moreno, are fighting for their religious freedom in the face of Maricopa County Community College District’s (MCCCD) vaccine mandate. The district is mandating vaccines to accommodate the requirements of those health care providers per their partnership agreements. Both Thoms and Moreno were denied religious exemptions – an objection to the use of fetal cell lines to either test or produce the COVID-19 vaccines in the market currently – because doing so would place “an undue hardship” on MCCCD. Thoms and Moreno must either get vaccinated and violate their religious beliefs, or effectively never complete their nursing program with MCCCD.

“The pressure the District has placed on [the plaintiffs] to forfeit their religious convictions or their academic programs is unreal and unprecedented and more than some of them could withstand, as the District fully expected. They have figuratively walked through fire and wait just beyond the flames to see if everything they have worked for will go up in smoke because they refuse to sacrifice their sincerely held religious beliefs to mollify an uncompromising District,” asserted the complaint. “[The plaintiffs] oppose abortion and believe it is the sinful killing of innocents and strictly prohibited by their Christian faith, as is the use of abortion-derived fetal cell lines for medical or research purposes. It would be an unthinkable and complicit act in abortion and a violation of their deeply held religious beliefs and moral consciences to take any of the COVID-19 vaccines, given their use of testing.”

In a separate explanation of their vaccine mandate, MCCCD said their decision was supported previously by an executive order issued by Governor Doug Ducey last year. The district did promise that it would review all religious and disability accommodations, noting that each partnered health care provider had their own procedures for religious and disability accommodations. However, even with an approved exemption, MCCCD disclosed that it couldn’t guarantee clinical placement that may result in removal from the course.

MCCCD’s characterization of having its hands tied when it comes to vaccine requirements for clinical placements may not be entirely accurate. According to the complaint, MCCCD did confirm with Thoms and Moreno that at least three health care centers do allow for unvaccinated students without exemptions to participate in clinical rotations, at least two health care centers allow unvaccinated students based on religious or other exemptions to participate in clinical rotations, at least one health care center allows MCCCD to determine whether or not students must be vaccinated, and at least one health care center hasn’t issued an official vaccination requirement for clinical rotations. In total, the complaint alleged that MCCCD didn’t know the vaccination requirements for 28 of its 36 major clinical partners – not including their affiliates.

According to the complaint, MCCCD alleged that their sweeping vaccine mandate was necessary because they randomly assign clinical placements and a student might end up at a partnering health care center that requires universal COVID-19 vaccination. Thoms and Moreno’s attorney, Colleen Auer, asserted in the complaint that this was false. She noted that students may pick their top three clinical site preferences and MCCCD assigns based on those selections.

Noncompliance with the mandate will cost Thoms and Moreno several years of time, money, and sacrifices they’ve invested into the program. In several weeks, they will be dropped from their clinical rotations and prevented from receiving their associate’s degree in nursing in December.

U.S. District Judge Steven Paul Logan is scheduled to hear the case on Monday: a week before MCCCD’s fall clinical rotations begin and the deadline for showing proof of vaccination, November 8. That’s also the date that the Biden Administration suggested for compliance with their vaccine mandate.

The Office of Personnel Management informed federal employees and companies with over 100 workers that the second dosage of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or the first dosage of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine, must occur on or before November 8 for full compliance.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Flagstaff Waives Land Use Law For Certain Property Owners

Flagstaff Waives Land Use Law For Certain Property Owners

By Corinne Murdock |

Flagstaff City Council voted last Tuesday to waive its land use restriction for property owners who submitted around $50 million in legal claims under the Arizona Private Property Rights Protection Act.

The Goldwater Institute submitted a demand letter on behalf of property owners in July. At the time, claims amounted to over $23 million for over 50 property owners.

Under the city’s High Occupancy Housing (HOH) Plan, residential and mixed-use properties faced restrictions such as a limit on the density and number of bedrooms and units, and additional requirements for automobile and bicycle parking standards. The HOH Plan would affect buildings with more than 75 bedrooms or 30 units per acre in dormitory or apartment-style units.

In part, the Private Property Rights Protection Act, or Prop 207, requires government to compensate property owners for any land use laws that restrict the right to “use, divide, sell, or possess” a property and thereby reduce its fair market value.

“If the existing rights to use, divide, sell or possess private real property are reduced by the enactment or applicability of any land use law enacted after the date the property is transferred to the owner and such action reduces the fair market value of the property the owner is entitled to just compensation from this state or the political subdivision of this state that enacted the land use law.

Under Prop 207, individuals that believe a land use law impacts their property’s fair market value must submit a demand letter to the government who enacted the law. The government must then choose to either compensate the property owner, waive the law for that property, or amend the law entirely.

Prop 207 also doubles down on private property protections within the state and federal constitutions, adding further measures to define and restrict eminent domain.

The Goldwater Institute confirmed with AZ Free News that even more property owners have contacted them about claims.

This Tuesday, the Flagstaff City Council discussed the HOH Plan again during a work session. A presentation on the subject noted that there were 87 Prop 207 claims in all, totaling over $50 million. In reviewing the plan, the presentation asked the council if it would like to maintain the plan, modify certain aspects of it, or scrap it entirely.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

The Arizona Supreme Court Should Uphold New Laws Banning Mask Mandates, Vaccine Mandates, and Critical Race Theory

The Arizona Supreme Court Should Uphold New Laws Banning Mask Mandates, Vaccine Mandates, and Critical Race Theory

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

This past July, Arizona lawmakers and Governor Ducey did the right thing. Through a series of Budget Reconciliation Bills, they took important steps to protect the people of Arizona from more COVID mandates and to prevent children from being indoctrinated in public schools by Critical Race Theory.

While COVID was certainly an issue that warranted some action, it never should have included trampling on the rights of the people. And we definitely should not be wasting tax dollars on lessons that teach public school students that one race, ethnic group, or sex is in any way superior to another.

Not surprisingly, these laws sent teachers’ unions into a tailspin. As students headed back to campus, some Arizona schools decided to teach students that it’s ok to violate the law. And the Arizona Board of Regents recently announced that all three state universities will require their employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 8.

Then, there’s the lawsuit

>>> READ MORE >>>

Business Executive Warns Federal Budget Bill Will Stunt Arizona’s Economic Growth

Business Executive Warns Federal Budget Bill Will Stunt Arizona’s Economic Growth

By Terri Jo Neff |

On Monday, the CEO of Phoenix-based Ritoch-Powell and Associates warned of the impacts of the corporate tax increase and cuts to deductions currently included in the Biden Administration’s federal budget bill.

“These tax increases mean business owners will hire fewer workers – and pay them less for their labor,” Karl Obergh wrote in an op-ed published by the Arizona Republic. “Similarly, the bill contains a variety of other measures, including ones that will limit which interest expenses businesses can deduct from their taxable income.”

Obergh is principal and CEO at Ritoch-Powell and Associates, an award-winning civil engineering and surveying firm which specializes in transportation, public works, renewable energy, and private development projects. He noted that Arizona companies could pay a combined state and federal income tax rate of more than 30 percent under the Biden Administration’s proposed budget.

Only 4.69 percent of that goes to Arizona’s treasury.

But it is not only increased federal corporate tax rates which should have Arizonans concerned, Obergh wrote. He pointed out that increased utility costs triggered by other provisions of the federal budget bill would hit residents in the wallet as well.

And then there is the impact of tax changes proposed by the White House for companies that do business outside the United States.  

According to Obergh, Arizona State University’s Seidman Research Institute recently collaborated with Ernst & Young to study the likely effect of some of the international tax changes included in Biden’s budget bill.  

The study found that 266 firms based in Arizona with 100 or more employees would be impacted, putting up to 27,000 jobs at risk. Particularly vulnerable would be the state’s booming manufacturing industry which would be placed at an economic disadvantage in competing with companies outside the U.S. with far lower tax rates.

Obergh’s concerns are shared by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) chaired by Sen. Rick Scott of Florida.  

“Joe Biden, Mark Kelly, and Senate Democrats are pushing a radical economic agenda that includes 40 tax hikes on Arizona families and job creators to pay for a reckless spending spree that will send our nation on the path towards socialism,” according to a statement released by NRSC on Monday.

Senator Kelly Silent On Biden Avoiding Border Visit

Senator Kelly Silent On Biden Avoiding Border Visit

By Corinne Murdock |

Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) hasn’t pressed President Joe Biden lately on the border, let alone a visit there, despite the number of illegal border crossings reaching an all-time historic high: 1.7 million. It was revealed that Biden hadn’t ever visited the border after Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy brought the topic up to Press Secretary Jen Psaki last month.

Psaki circled back to the topic in last Friday’s White House press briefing, in response to a follow-up by Doocy after Biden claimed he’d visited the border during a CNN town hall the day before. Psaki appeared to allude to a report by The Washington Post, which stated that the last time Biden visited the border was a “drive-by” in 2008. According to that report, he drove by the border while on the campaign trail for previous President Barack Obama.

AZ Free News inquired with Kelly’s office for comment. They didn’t respond by press time.

The most recent action from Kelly on the border concerns hearings for Biden’s nomination for Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) commissioner. Last week, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus sat before the Senate Finance Committee for a confirmation hearing.

Both Kelly and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) vowed to the committee that Magnus would be an optimal choice for CBP commissioner. Sinema emphasized Magnus’ capabilities to protect the border; Kelly remarked that Magnus would be a “committed public servant,” not pointing fingers at the Biden Administration but rather stressing that “decades” of broken immigration laws and politician failures were to blame for the border.

In comparison to Kelly, Sinema has been more vocal in her discontent with Biden’s handling of the border. Sinema demanded that the Biden Administration “do more” to address the illegal immigrants.

“The reality is that this is a crisis and we all know it, and the federal government must do more to address this surge of migrants who are coming to the border in increasing numbers each year,” said Sinema.

Though Kelly hasn’t asked Biden to visit the border, both he and Sinema requested in April that Biden reimburse Arizona for their National Guard deployment expenses. Then in August, they petitioned Biden again to reimburse the state’s expenditures following a show of support for Governor Doug Ducey’s announcement that he would be extending the deployment of the 150 guardsmen for another year.

Biden hasn’t footed the bill.

In July, however, Biden did approve legislation to reimburse the National Guard $521 million for their deployment of 26,000 troops following the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.