elementary students
House Passes Bill Giving Parents Right to Choose Whether Children Mask Up For School

February 23, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

State Representative Joseph Chaplik’s (R-Scottsdale) bill to leave a child’s masking up to parents passed in the House last Thursday in a party-line vote, 31-28. HB2616 requires that public and charter school districts — as well as the state, its political subdivisions, and any other governmental entity — may not require minors to wear masks or face coverings without the express consent of their parent or legal guardian. 

During the House floor’s vote on the bill, Democrats expressed opposition to HB2616 by claiming their Republican colleagues were on the side of increasing the scope and size of government, suggesting that Democrats stood for limited government by comparison. Senate Democrats offered similar arguments during the floor vote on a bill to limit abortions after 15 weeks. State Representative Marcelino Quiñonez (D-Phoenix) made such an argument as he voted against HB2616. Quiñonez didn’t elaborate how a bill affording individuals the choice for their children to wear medical gear increased the scope and size of government authority. 

“There seems to be a hesitancy to accept the science and go with the science. Instead of doing that, we continue to create barriers to ensure that people feel othered by wearing a mask, instead of following the science,” said Quiñonez. “The legislation to create another barrier, another bureaucracy, is overdue. And so with that, I encourage my colleagues to follow the science and vote ‘no.’”

In a press release following the bill’s passage, Chaplik explained that parents were given back their right to make medical decisions for their children. He expressed confidence that the senate will pass the bill. 

“This is a bill to return the right to make medical decisions for their children to the parents, which I expect to become the law in Arizona,” said Chaplik. “This is a win for parents, students, and schools who have been forced by their district leadership to mandate masks.”

As AZ Free News reported earlier this month, Democrats in the House Government and Elections Committee issued the same arguments against the bill. State Representative Sarah Ligouri (D-Phoenix) insisted that the bill contradicted “the science” and pandered to a “political narrative,” arguing that districts with mask mandates already have opt-out options for parents. However, Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) would be one district that doesn’t mention an opt-out to its mask mandate. 

State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) responded that mask mandates weren’t based on scientific knowledge, pointing out the CDC’s frequently-changing guidelines and goalposts over the last two years. Hoffman implied that Liguori and other Democrats opposed to the bill were cherry-picking data from their preferred sources to support the notion that “the science” supported mask mandates. 

“In reality, the science is on the side that kids should not be forced to wear masks,” said Hoffman. “This is not a political argument, it’s an actual medical science argument. There’s countless medical studies to support this, and there are countless health professionals at the highest levels — especially medical doctors, not just public health professionals because there’s a very big difference between an actual medical doctor and a public health professional — they support this.”

Last year, Chaplik sponsored the “Freedom Bill” signed by Governor Doug Ducey: another bill expanding personal freedoms when it comes to masking. The Freedom Bill allowed businesses to not enforce a state, city, town, county, or any other government jurisdiction’s mask mandate on their premises. 

HB2616 now heads to the senate for consideration. 

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

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