Parents, Not Bureaucrats, Now Have Final Say In Masking Of Children

Parents, Not Bureaucrats, Now Have Final Say In Masking Of Children

By Terri Jo Neff |

A new state law resolves one of the most controversial aspects of the pandemic – who gets to decide whether a child must wear a mask or face covering.

On Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2616 which puts the mask or no mask decision squarely in the hands of parents instead of school officials or any other bureaucrat.

“Parents should make decisions for their children, not the government,” said Rep. Joseph Chaplik, who sponsored HB2616 to require the express consent of the parent or guardian of anyone under age 18 before a government official can require a child to wear a mask.  

“Arizona law already requires parents to be consulted before instituting medical requirements for children,” noted Chaplik (R-LD23). “This commonsense bill extends the law to include masks, joining other freedom states in protecting the right of parents to make decisions for their child.”

The prohibition on mask mandates of children applies to the State of Arizona, its political subdivisions, any governmental entity, school districts, and charter schools. The entire Republican caucus of the House and the Senate voted in support of HB2616, which was sent to the governor’s desk last week. 

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

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

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.

Parental Right to Decide Child Masking Passes House Committee

Parental Right to Decide Child Masking Passes House Committee

By Corinne Murdock |

On Wednesday, the House Government and Elections Committee narrowly approved a bill from State Representative Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale) prohibiting government entities or schools from requiring minors to wear a mask without the express parental consent. All Democrats voted against HB2616, ensuring Republicans edged out a narrow 7-6 victory.

“I believe parents should make decisions for their children, not the government,” asserted Chaplik. “The states of Florida and Virginia, with bipartisan support, have passed this similar policy. I will continue to stand for freedom in Arizona for our constituents.”

HB2616 would’ve had greater reach than government and K-12 education: the original bill also prohibited mask mandates in private businesses for both adults and for minors, unless the business had express parental consent for the child to wear one. An approved amendment to HB2616 from State Representative John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) struck those additional provisions.

During the committee hearing, Chaplik explained that obtaining consent was up to the schools. When State Representative Sarah Liguori (D-Phoenix) expressed confusion as to whether schools would be required to obtain written consent for a child that showed up to school wearing a mask, Chaplik clarified that the child arriving to school in a mask was sufficient parental consent. 

Liguori lambasted her colleagues for “buying into a political narrative.” She claimed that school districts with mask mandates have opt-out options for parents. That is incorrect. Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), for one, doesn’t mention the option to not wear a mask on school property.

“I hate to get caught up in the politics of the masks, which I believe was intentionally designed as an illusion but its even more of a fantasy to think we as legislators know more than the experts who have trained their entire lives in these fields and have studied the science and data on this day in and day out for the past two years,” said Liguori. 

State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) challenged Liguori’s assertion that the experts were infallible and that the masks were a political issue. Hoffman reminded the committee of the CDC’s track record of changing their guidelines and goalposts constantly. 

“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.” 

On Tuesday, the American Federation for Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten pushed back in an interview with MSNBC against the beginning trend to drop mask mandates in schools. Weingarten admitted that masks are not only intolerable but an impediment to learning.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has also pushed back, arguing in an interview with Reuters this week that “now is not the moment” to drop mask mandates.  

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