By Corinne Murdock |
Both the House Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education Committees approved a bill preventing K-12 schools from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for attendance. HB2086 passed narrowly along party lines: 5-4 in the former, 6-4 in the latter.
State Representative Joanne Osborne (R-Goodyear) insisted during the Education Committee hearing on Tuesday that this bill safeguards parental rights. Osborne relayed how she heard that some high schools were considering masking mandates for student athletes.
“Some may ask why is this necessary now? It’s not being mandated. I want to make sure it stays that way,” said Osborne. “I’m not a health physician, but I am a parent. I am speaking up because this is not a childhood disease. I’m not an anti-vaxxer, but I am going to say to parents: talk to your doctors about this.”
Osborne clarified that she wasn’t opposed to vaccination requirements for other diseases, because traditional vaccinations have been established for their safety and efficacy for years.
State Representative Lupe Diaz (R-Hereford) said the vaccination requirement reminded him of China’s social credit system, and insisted that vaccination requirements for participation in public systems was tantamount to weaponization.
State Representative John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction) noted that this was only a “tiny step toward freedom.”
As a rebuttal to the logic of the bill, State Representative Judy Schwiebert (D-Phoenix) said that broad vaccine exemptions are already in place, calling the bill “redundant.” State Representative Daniel Hernandez (D-Tucson) added onto Schwiebert’s argument, arguing that Arizona already has strong parental choice laws in other regards, such as school choice.
During the HHS Committee meeting last week, State Representative Melody Hernandez (D-Tempe) said that forcing quarantine for healthy students who aren’t sick is important to keep everyone around the children safe. Hernandez claimed that the opt-out process was sufficient for parental choice.
However, Heather Rooks, a mother of four, pointed out during the Education Committee that even with religious or medical exemptions, unvaccinated students may be forcibly quarantined with an outbreak, which the state defines as two or more cases. Committee policy aides verified that this was correct.
State Representative Beverly Pingerelli (R-Peoria), a Peoria Unified School District (PUSD) governing board member, declared that children had suffered too much already.