Hobbs To Decide Fate Of Bill Protecting Minors On Internet

Hobbs To Decide Fate Of Bill Protecting Minors On Internet

By Daniel Stefanski |

A bill to protect children on the internet is nearing the finish line in the Arizona Legislature, though some partisan opposition puts its fate in jeopardy with Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs should it reach her desk.

SB 1503, sponsored by Senator Wendy Rogers, “directs a commercial entity to verify that any person attempting to access an internet website containing a substantial portion of material harmful to minors is at least 18 years old.” The bill “authorizes the age verification to be made through a commercially available database that is regularly used by businesses or governmental entities for the purposes of age and identity verification; or any other commercially reasonable method of age and identity verification.” It “subjects a commercial entity that violates the verification requirement to civil liability for damages, including attorney fees and costs, resulting from the minor’s access to the material.”

Rogers was joined on her bill by co-sponsors (and fellow Senators) Ken Bennett, Sonny Borrelli, Frank Carroll, David Farnsworth, Jake Hoffman, Steve Kaiser, John Kavanagh, Janae Shamp, T.J. Shope, and Justine Wadsack.

The bill first cleared the Arizona Senate Transportation and Technology Committee in February with a bipartisan vote of 5-2. Democrat Senator Christine Marsh joined four other Republicans to advance the legislation out of committee. After a Rogers’ amendment was adopted on the floor, the full chamber approved the bill with a bipartisan 19-11 vote, though Marsh did not vote in favor.

Senator Rogers cheered the passage of her proposal after the Senate vote, tweeting, “Need to be age 18 to view ‘content harmful to minors’ (pornography) on the internet. My SB 1503 passed the Arizona Senate. #ProtectChildInnocence”

SB 1503 was then transmitted to the Arizona House of Representatives where it was assigned to the Regulatory Committee. In March, the Committee took up and considered this bill, passing it with a party-line 4-3 vote. It awaits the green light from the House before it travels to the Governor’s Office for her final decision.

During the House Regulatory Committee hearing, Representative Nancy Gutierrez explained that she thought this legislation was “an infringement on our First Amendment rights,” and she found it “ridiculous” that anyone would suggest that a company would be at fault for a child looking at inappropriate websites. Gutierrez was baffled that anyone would also suggest that “there is a mechanism that would even be able to verify age.”

Her Democrat colleague, Representative Alma Hernandez, agreed with these sentiments. Before Hernandez voted against SB 1503, she first stated that she didn’t want children looking at pornography on the internet, but that this was “almost impossible to actually enforce.” She argued that the United States is “not North Korea, China, or Iran, where those countries have internet censorship,” and she challenged her Republican colleagues to return to their freedom-loving roots when coming up for solutions of problems that are perpetrated on the internet. Hernandez stated that she believes “it should be up to the parents to decide if they want to put screening mechanisms on their children’s phones.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Hobbs Kills Protections For Babies Born Alive

Hobbs Kills Protections For Babies Born Alive

By Daniel Stefanski |

Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed a bill that would have enhanced protections for newborn infants, angering Arizona Legislative Republicans who sent the legislation to her Office.

Hobbs vetoed SB 1600, sponsored by Senator Janae Shamp, which would have required “any infant who is born alive to be treated as a legal person under Arizona laws and have the same rights to medically appropriate and reasonable care and treatment.” The bill also would have required “any health care professional present, when an infant is born alive, to take all medically appropriate actions to preserve the life and health of the born alive infant.”

Hobbs explained her reasoning for the veto in a letter to Arizona President Warren Petersen, writing: “The bill is uniformly opposed by the medical community and interferes with the relationship between a patient and doctor. It’s simply not the state’s role to make such difficult medical decisions for patients. As a candidate I promised to veto any bill that interferes with the reproductive rights of Arizonans. As Governor, I intend to make good on that promise.

But the bill sponsor, Senator Shamp, wasn’t having any of the governor’s justification for her veto. Shamp released her own statement shortly after the action, saying, “Governor Hobbs has refused to carry out the scheduled execution of death row inmate, Aaron Gunches, in order to preserve his life after being convicted of a brutal murder. It’s sickening that she doesn’t feel the same about keeping innocent babies alive. In reality, death by neglect is murder. Healthcare professionals should be required to take action to preserve the life and health of a living, breathing baby. Appropriate medical care ranges from the most invasive to comfort care, and under no circumstances should that ever not be offered. Quite frankly, it’s atrocious that I would even need to write legislation to protect our state’s most vulnerable lives.”

During the legislative process, SB 1600 first passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee with a party-line vote of 4-3, and then the full chamber by a tally of 16-13 (with one Democrat member not voting). The bill was then transmitted to the House, where the Health and Human Services Committee approved its clearance 5-4. The full chamber then gave the legislation a green light with a 32-26 vote (with two Democrat members not voting). Democrat Representative Lydia Hernandez was the lone member of her party to side with Republicans in voting for this bill.

Before the governor’s veto, representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, Arizona National Organization for Women, State Conference NAACP, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona (among others) registered their opposition to the bill; while representatives from the Arizona Catholic Conference and Center for Arizona Policy urged legislators to support the proposal.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Hobbs Vetoes Bill To Save Lives, Protect Religious Liberty

Hobbs Vetoes Bill To Save Lives, Protect Religious Liberty

By Daniel Stefanski |

A push to protect Arizonans’ constitutional liberties for future health emergencies hit a dead end after clearing both chambers of the Arizona Legislature.

This week, Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed SB 1250, which dealt with vaccine requirements and religious exemptions to those mandated medical shots. The governor’s veto was her 20th of the legislative session.

In a letter to President Warren Petersen on Thursday, the governor explained her reasoning for rejecting the legislature’s proposal: “This bill is unnecessary, as legal protections for an employee’s religious beliefs already exist in federal employment law. This bill also threatens employers with a civil penalty and a hefty fine, which could be devastating for Arizona’s many small businesses.”

Hobbs encouraged legislative leaders to “work to find bipartisan solutions that promote the educated and healthy workforce that is essential for Arizona’s economy.”

Senator Janae Shamp, the bill’s sponsor, was not pleased with the governor’s action, releasing the following statement in response: “I spent my entire career as a nurse, being an advocate for my patients and ensuring that their beliefs are respected and protected. The reason I’m here at the Senate, is because I was fired from my job as a nurse after refusing to get the experimental COVID-19 vaccine. My top priority is this bill because during the pandemic, Americans’ medical freedoms were taken from them, myself included. For me, the Governor’s veto is personal. Not just for me but for every Arizonan who lost their job in the same manner.”

Shamp also addressed the governor’s call for bipartisan solutions, saying, “To call out those who stood to protect our health from an experimental shot that is proving to be toxic for many, is beyond an insult. If we truly care about our healthcare and getting people back to work, then maybe we should come together to get nurses back into our hospitals.”

The senator promised “to continue to fight for Arizonans’ medical freedom.”

On Twitter, Senator Shamp went further, calling Governor Hobbs “an open medical tyrant.”

SB 1250 instituted these main provisions (among others) for state law:

– “Requires employers to allow employees that complete a religious exemption form to opt out of vaccination requirements for COVID-19, influenza A, influenza B, flu or any vaccine authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use only.”

– “Prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee regarding employment, wages or benefits based on vaccination status; and from inquiring into the veracity of an employee’s religious beliefs practices or observances to the extent beyond what is allowed under federal law.”

– “Allows a terminated employee who was not offered or was denied a vaccination religious exemption by their employer to file a complaint with the Attorney General.”

This legislation closely tracked an opinion request from former Senator Kelly Townsend to former Attorney General Mark Brnovich, which was answered on August 20, 2021. Townsend asked three questions, including whether an employer could require a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment. Brnovich, who had several lawsuits over federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates (including the first one in the nation that was filed in Brnovich v. Biden), found that “under federal and state law, employers who mandate vaccinations must provide reasonable accommodations to employees who cannot obtain the COVID-19 vaccine due to a disability or a sincerely-held religious belief.”

Brnovich’s opinion also outlined that “a sincerely-held religious belief about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine includes a moral or ethical belief against receiving a COVID-19 vaccine that has the strength of a traditional religious view.” On the 2022 campaign trail, current Attorney General Kris Mayes was asked about forced vaccine mandates by private businesses and responded, “Of course they can. It is a private business.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.