Shamp Bill Protects Employees’ Religious Beliefs
By Daniel Stefanski |
The reaction to COVID-19 may be mostly a thing of the past, but Arizona lawmakers are not finished with their efforts to protect their constituents’ constitutional liberties for the future.
Sen. Janae Shamp introduced S.B. 1250, dealing with vaccine requirements and religious exemptions to those mandated medical shots. According to the fact sheet for the legislation (provided by the Arizona Senate Research staff), this bill would accomplish three things:
- “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 approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use.”
- “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.”
- “Allows a terminated employee of a health care institution that did not offer or denied a vaccination religious exemption to file a complaint with the Attorney General.”
“It’s sickening that many healthcare workers, like myself, lost our jobs because we refused to take the jab. The COVID-19 vaccine has not been on the market long enough to determine if there is a correlation between its ingredients and medical issues a number of patients are now experiencing after getting the shot,” stated Sen. Shamp in a release announcing her bill’s progress. “We already have a dire shortage of medical professionals within Arizona, and these mandates have only exacerbated the crisis.”
This piece of legislation should come as a surprise to no one, as Shamp ran on the platform of “medical freedom” during her 2022 campaign for the southwest valley seat. In her response to the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission voter guide, Shamp wrote that she had “been in politics for many years, but the lockdowns, mandates, and shutting down of scientific debate during the Covid pandemic got me very involved in the fight for medical freedom and our rights.”
This legislation closely tracks an opinion request from former Sen. 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 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.”
Sen. Shamp’s bill has three co-sponsors: fellow Sen. Steve Kaiser, and Reps. Austin Smith and Steve Montenegro. S.B. 1250 is one of nineteen bills scheduled to be considered in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday, February 7. Sen. T.J. Shope is the chairman of the committee, and Senator Shamp is the vice-chairman. You can watch the meeting live here, or attend in person in Senate Hearing Room 1 at 2:00 PM.
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.