By Corinne Murdock |
The House Government and Elections Committee passed two bills prohibiting government entities from requiring masks or COVID-19 vaccines. The first bill, HB2498, prohibits governments from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for any Arizonan; The second bill, HB2453, would eliminate all governmental authority to require masks or face coverings on their premises, with an exception carved out for areas with workplace safety and infection control measures unrelated to COVID-19. For both bills, “government entities” are defined as those who receive and use tax revenues.
Both bills were introduced by Queen Creek Republicans: State Representatives Jake Hoffman and Neal Carter, respectively. HB2498 passed 7-5 along party lines, with State Representative Alma Hernandez (D-Tucson) abstaining her vote. HB2453 passed more narrowly, 7-6 along party lines.
State Representative Sarah Liguori (D-Phoenix) argued during Wednesday’s committee that the vaccine prevents individuals from spreading COVID-19; Hoffman, the vice chairman, rebutted that simply wasn’t the case. Liguori argued, based on a definition from ushistory.org, that governments provide everyday behavior parameters, well-being, and happiness for citizens. Hoffman responded that the definition wasn’t at all aligned with the U.S. Constitution.
“I honestly don’t give a rat’s ass what ushistory.org says,” said Hoffman. “We exist to protect the rights of our citizens. One of their own rights is to choose their own bodily decisions. It’s their right to choose whether or not a vaccine is injected into them.”
A male legislator chimed in to say Hoffman’s argument aligned with pro-abortion arguments; Hoffman rebutted that wasn’t true because a baby’s life was at stake.
Minority Leader Reginald Bolding (D-Laveen) insisted that the fact that vaccines don’t prevent individuals from catching or spreading COVID-19 was “unfounded.” He then characterized the bill as an overreach preventing individuals from obtaining the protections of a vaccine, though he didn’t clarify how this bill had any bearing on individuals choosing to get vaccinated voluntarily.
“If we have the ability to have a vaccine that would prevent individuals from becoming severely ill or losing their life, we should not be standing in the way of that. I believe this bill is an additional overreach,” said Bolding.
Hoffman reiterated that the American system of government doesn’t have a right to force its citizens to take a vaccine they don’t want to have.
“Our overture to the world on what sets this people apart from everywhere else: ‘We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” said Hoffman. “The choice of the governed. It is not in the American system that a government can tell them what to do, can force them to take a vaccine.”
As AZ Free News reported, Carter asserted that his bill, HB2453, would curb further exacerbations of the current hiring and employee shortages in addition to respecting the right of individuals to make their own health decisions.
During the committee meeting, Bolding called the bill “misplaced policy” by not allowing local governments to protect their citizens by requiring masks. State Representative John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction) responded that he feels bad that any individual would die from an infectious disease, but it saddened him greatly too that a whole society allowed the government to assume complete control over their lives.
“I was appalled that the churches did not rise in opposition when [the government] said that people could not go and pray to the gods of their choice and live out their lives, like they did during the Revolutionary War which sparked freedom in America the way that it did,” said Fillmore.
Liguori insisted that “the science” proved mask wearing prevented spread of COVID-19, and that masks weren’t a partisan issue.