The National Education Association’s state affiliate tried to harass and intimidate Rhode Island mom Nicole Solas into silence just for trying to find out what her daughter would be taught in kindergarten by filing a legally baseless lawsuit against her. The union even went so far as to seek emergency relief from the court to circumvent the public records law and prevent Nicole from receiving public information.
Today, the union withdrew its baseless request for emergency relief. Nicole has contended since the union first filed this case that the union has no standing and no legal right to bring the action. The union’s voluntary withdraw of its motion appears to recognize the union’s flimsy legal standing.
Earlier this year, Nicole began making public records requests to find out her daughter’s kindergarten curriculum—doing just as her school district asked her to do. But for making these requests, she was stonewalled and even threatened with legal action. The Goldwater Institute made an additional records request on her behalf—and in response, the South Kingstown School Committee hit her with a $74,000 bill to get the information she sought.
The NEA had asked for a preliminary order from the court that would direct the South Kingstown School Committee to stop responding to Nicole’s public records requests. But today, the union withdrew its extraordinary request, and the School Committee now must still meet its statutory deadlines and other requirements to respond to Nicole’s public records requests.
“Nicole and every parent has every right to know what is being taught in their children’s classrooms,” said Goldwater Institute Director of National Litigation Jon Riches, who represents Nicole. “The union’s reprehensible attempt to harass and intimate Nicole and other parents was seen today for what it is—a legally baseless assault that will not stand.”
The Attorney General’s Office issued a legal opinion sought by Arizona State Rep. Kelly Townsend regarding COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employees, patrons of businesses, and airline passengers under existing state and federal laws. The 40-page Opinion finds that due to the fact that government and private businesses have varying legal requirements, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
Attorney General Mark Brnovich emphasized what he says is the “importance of relying on the constitution during a crisis when personal liberties are most at risk. While public health measures may be pursued during emergencies, they cannot trample constitutionally guaranteed liberties. Arizonans should be free, without coercion, to make medical decisions regarding vaccination that they feel are best for themselves and their families. Recent actions by government and private employers mandating Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) vaccinations demonstrate that a proper balance may have yet to be achieved by policymakers.”
“We must hold the Constitution close in times of crisis because that’s when our rights are most at risk,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “In all medical and health decisions, Americans have the right to try and the right not to try; we cannot have one without the other.”
The Opinion provides a summary of current protections for employees and others from vaccination mandates. An Attorney General Opinion must explain the law as it currently exists, and not how the Attorney General or others might desire it to be.
Only a member of the legislature, a public officer of the State, or a county attorney can submit an opinion request to the AGO on legal questions pertaining to their office. The AGO cannot issue opinions for private citizens, nor offer legal advice to private citizens.
The Opinion answered the following three questions:
Whether an employer can require a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment?
Whether a business can compel an individual to prove that they have received a vaccination before that person can patronize the business?
Whether, under a contract of carriage, a domestic airline can require proof of vaccination as a prerequisite for flying?
As explained below, Attorney General Brnovich determined that, under Arizona law, the government cannot mandate COVID-19 vaccines for public employees. This includes schools, public universities, community colleges, and state and local government. Private businesses can require COVID-19 vaccines for employees but must allow for reasonable accommodations. Per federal law, private entities that carry out an EUA activity like administering COVID-19 vaccines must inform those to whom they are administering the vaccines (which may include employees) that they have an option to decline.
1. Whether an employer can require a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment?
Schools, public universities, community colleges, and state and local governments are statutorily prohibited from requiring employees to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations. While some of these statutory prohibitions will take effect on September 29, 2021, existing Arizona law (A.R.S. §§ 36-114, -184), prohibits state and county governments from imposing vaccine mandates.
Under federal and state law, private businesses can mandate vaccinations for employees but must provide reasonable accommodations for employees who cannot obtain the COVID-19 vaccine due to a disability or a sincerely held religious belief.
2. Whether a business can compel an individual to prove that they have received a vaccination before that person can patronize the business?
Under federal and state law, private businesses that mandate vaccination for patrons must provide reasonable accommodations to patrons who cannot obtain the COVID-19 vaccine due to disability, and they must not discriminate against customers who cannot obtain such a vaccine due to a sincerely held religious belief.
Under Arizona law, effective September 29, 2021, certain educational institutions will be prohibited from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination from students. Currently, public, private, and parochial schools are limited in conditioning student attendance on documentation of vaccines when parents have a personal objection or if a vaccine would be detrimental to a student’s health.
3. Whether, under a contract of carriage, a domestic airline carrier can require proof of vaccination as a prerequisite for flying?
Domestic airlines in the United States are primarily governed by federal law. Currently, there is no federal law that allows a domestic airline to require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or refuse transportation of a passenger out of fear he/she might have a communicable disease. Under federal regulation, an airline may not refuse a customer based on a communicable disease unless the customer (1) actually has a communicable disease (2) that is a direct threat to other passengers, and (3) cannot obtain a medical certificate setting forth preventative measures. It will be difficult for an airline to establish these requirements with respect to COVID-19 when airline service has continued throughout the pandemic with masking and ventilation as the primary preventative measures.
On Thursday, Holocaust survivors, students, lawmakers and educators joined Governor Doug Ducey as he signed legislation strengthening instruction about the Holocaust and other genocides in Arizona’s schools. House Bill 2241, sponsored by Rep. Alma Hernandez, requires young Arizonans to learn the enduring lessons of the Holocaust and the tragic consequences of religious and racial intolerance.
“Arizona has long been a leader on civics education, but it’s clear we need to extend our curriculum to more closely cover the horrors of the Holocaust,” said Governor Ducey. “This bill is a step in the right direction but our work is far from over. Antisemitism and other forms of hate are real, and we must do more to make sure this never, ever happens again. My thanks to Representative Alma Hernandez for leading this effort, along with Speaker Bowers and all of the survivors who have dedicated their lives to spreading awareness.”
Governor Ducey was joined by Senate President Karen Fann, House Speaker Rusty Bowers, legislators, Holocaust survivors, members of Arizona’s Jewish community, Holocaust education advocates and students at the Arizona State Capitol for the ceremonial signing.
“I can’t begin to express how proud I am to see this important legislation get signed,” said Representative Hernandez. “Thank you to the Holocaust survivors, advocates, students and community leaders who supported House Bill 2241. This is a big win for not only Arizona’s Jewish community, but for the future of our state. My thanks also goes to Governor Ducey for his continued support in our efforts to reject antisemitism and expand Holocaust education.”
According to a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2019, fewer than half of respondents could correctly answer multiple-choice questions about the number of Jewish individuals who were murdered during the Holocaust or the way that Adolf Hitler came to power.
“This important bill will strengthen our youth’s understanding of a dark time in history,” said Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers. “I’m grateful to Representative Hernandez for her effort in leading this bill in the legislature. It was an honor to work with my colleagues to get this done, and I’m grateful to Governor Ducey for signing this bill into law.”
Antisemitism has been on the rise in recent years with 18 incidents in Arizona already this year. Last year there were more than 2,000 incidents of antisemitism around the country and 23 incidents in Arizona, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
“These antisemitic acts are disgraceful and unacceptable, and we’re going to do everything we can to ensure Arizonans of the Jewish faith are treated with respect, dignity and humanity,” the Governor said during the signing ceremony.
The city of Glendale has informed the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Arizona Coyotes that the upcoming season will be the team’s last in Gila River Arena. The parties have been operating under a year-to-year agreement for several years. The agreement provides that either party can decide not to renew the agreement for an additional year by providing written notice each year on or before Dec. 31.
“We are thankful to the NHL and the Arizona Coyotes for being part of the Glendale community for the past 18 years,” said Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps. “The decision to not renew the operating agreement with the Coyotes was not made overnight or in a vacuum. We carefully weighed input from key stakeholders, our expert economist, our arena management firm and our City Council.”
Phelps said the “future of the Sports and Entertainment District has never looked brighter.”
More than a billion dollars of investment has occurred in the District during the past three years. The magnitude of this private investment is unprecedented in Glendale’s history.
“Over the next year, the City will be announcing many new projects that will generate incredible excitement for residents, visitors and stakeholders,” said Phelps. “As amazing as the Sports and Entertainment District is today, the next several years will be even more transformative as this momentum continues.”
Today, Governor Doug Ducey is recognizing National Navajo Code Talkers Day, now an official state holiday, to honor the Navajo Code Talkers who answered the call to protect our nation.
“Arizona is proud and grateful for the incredible work of the Code Talkers,” Governor Ducey said in the video. “Their bravery and ingenuity was instrumental in helping the Allied Forces claim victory in World War II.”
Navajo Code Talkers Day celebrates the selfless sacrifice of these brave men, including Arizona’s remaining Code Talkers: Thomas Begay, John Kinsel Jr, Samuel Sandoval and Peter MacDonald.
Governor Ducey on March 29 signed legislation sponsored by Senator Jamescita Peshlakai that makes National Navajo Code Talkers Day a legal state holiday every year on August 14. Under the legislation, if National Navajo Code Talkers Day falls on a day other than Sunday, the Sunday following August 14 is to be observed as the holiday.
The United States government recruited and enlisted more than 400 Navajo men to serve in standard communications units. The Navajo Code Talkers used their unbreakable code to assist in every major operation involving the United States Marines in the Pacific theatre, including during the battle of Iwo Jima where they successfully transmitted more than 800 messages without error.
Navajo Code Talkers Day was established through a presidential proclamation by President Ronald Reagan on August 14, 1982. In 2014, Arizona passed legislation declaring every August 14 Navajo Code Talkers Day in Arizona.
Governor Ducey has issued five proclamations to honor the Code Talkers since 2017.