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.
Democrats love to talk about the need of establishing a “universal” health care system that provides everyone with the same quality of care. That was the major theme pushed by the left and the media when Obamacare was signed into law in 2010.
We always knew that it was propaganda and that a government-run healthcare system would result in worse care for everyone. What we didn’t know is that the left doesn’t even support this claim. They do like the idea of providing different care to different people, so long as it promotes their radical, race-based social justice agenda.
Rationing COVID treatments based on race
To kick off the new year, health officials in Democrat-run New York made the call to prioritize non-whites as part of their criteria to decide who is eligible to receive monoclonal antibodies. And while white people can still receive the treatments, they’ll have to show that they have medical conditions that increase their risk for severe illness. Non-white patients, however, are automatically eligible.
Last month, State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) requested Attorney General Mark Brnovich investigate Pima County for denying reasonable accommodations for religious beliefs conflicting with their COVID-19 vaccination requirement. At this point in the investigation, Townsend has requested Pima County employees to file complaints to the civil rights division of the attorney general’s office.
The county requires current and future employees to get vaccinated. However, the county must abide by A.R.S. § 23-206 which requires reasonable accommodations for religious beliefs.
“If an employer receives notice from an employee that the employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs, practices or observances prevent the employee from taking the COVID-19 vaccination, the employer shall provide a reasonable accommodation unless the accommodation would pose an undue hardship and more than a de minimus cost to the operation of the employer’s business,” read the statute.
Pima County contended that the law poses an undue hardship. In a statement released Thursday, Townsend asserted that Pima County’s allegations of undue hardship conflicted with their previous two years of mitigations without a vaccine.
“[T]he County alleges that it cannot provide reasonable accommodations in certain situations due to the hardship it would cause them, even though employers have successfully adjusted to accommodate COVID-19 in the workplace for nearly two years,” stated Townsend. “I am confident the attorney general will continue to investigate, and where appropriate prosecute, instances of personal freedom infringement across Arizona, including in Pima County.
Townsend promised further that she would continue to fight for individuals to make their own medical decisions.
Late last month, Brnovich responded to another request from Townsend concerning another COVID-19 topic: forced quaratines of K-12 students. Brnovich issued an opinion declaring that students had a right to legal counsel in the event that their school required them to quarantine for COVID-19 exposure.
In September, another one of Townsend’s inquiries to Brnovich on the legality of COVID-19 response measures prompted action from the city of Tucson. After Brnovich opined that the city acted unlawfully when it handed down five days unpaid suspension to unvaccinated employees, the city halted its vaccine mandate.
Within a week, the CDC changed its guidelines to halve the quarantining recommendation from 10 days to five. As AZ Free News reported, the changes came after a request letter to the CDC from Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian.
Employers who mandate COVID-19 vaccinations as a prerequisite to employment or continued employment could be held liable for damages if an employee is denied a religious exemption and then suffers significant injury due to the vaccine, according to legislation introduced Friday by State Rep. Quang Nguyen.
“The reality is COVID-19 is going to be with us for a long time,” Nguyen said of his motivation for the bill. “If businesses and employers are intent on mandating vaccinations as a condition of employment, they should be held accountable if their employees face serious harm or illness.”
Some COVID-19 vaccines have been granted liability protection from the federal government, which limits the options for affected individuals who are injured in connection to a vaccination. Current state law only provides for an affected employee to seek recourse via the workers’ compensation system.
Nguyen, a Republican, serves Legislative District 1 which includes Prescott and portions of Yavapai and Maricopa counties. His HB2043 creates a separate pathway for an employee to seek recourse if they are significantly injured due to a mandated vaccine after being denied a religious exemption.
“This is one of the most important bills I’m introducing this coming session,” Nguyen said. “Public and private health mandates are not a good solution and could instead cause harm in some cases.”
According to the current bill language, anaffected employee who prevails in state court could be entitled to at least $500,000 in actual damages. Punitive damages could also be sought in cases where egregious or malicious conduct is alleged.
Another 11 representatives have signed on to HB2043 as co-sponsors.
By now, you’re probably fed up with talking about school shutdowns. And frankly, we’re getting fed up with fighting the left on this issue. But leave it to the teachers’ unions and RedforEd to call for more school shutdowns right before students returned from their winter break.
While death of any sort is heartbreaking, these numbers prove that COVID is no more dangerous for children than the seasonal flu. But the teachers’ unions and RedforEd just can’t help themselves—because, as usual, it’s always about them.