The city of Phoenix instituted a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees, and numerous Republican lawmakers want to stop it. Several legislators sent a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey demanding that he call a special session of the Arizona Legislature so they can pass legislation halting that mandate and any others in Arizona.
State Sen. Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix), State Rep. Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix), and State Rep. Justin Wilmeth (R-Phoenix) wrote, “We urge you to immediately call us into a special session to pass legislation prohibiting any government entity from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine. Since the Arizona Supreme Court struck down policy provisions added to the budget passed earlier this year as a violation of our state Constitution’s single subject clause, it is imperative we address medical freedom issues taking place in our K-12 public schools, public colleges and universities, and any city, county or town from imposing a vaccine passport or mandate on any person or business.”
They warned Ducey, “Phoenix faces an immediate crisis not knowing if there will be enough emergency personnel to swiftly respond to a burgeoning public safety issue, especially our police and fire personnel.”
Yvette Bro, vice president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, said during a press conference last month held by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announcing a lawsuit against Phoenix over the mandate, “We had a survey a few months ago, and it was overwhelming, we had over 600 members that said they would leave if they were forced to get the vaccine.”
Brnovich also sued the Biden administration over the mandate, which the legislators cited in their letter. The legislators point out that reputable studies have found that natural immunity protects against COVID-19 better than the vaccine, but the policy doesn’t take this into account.
They outline how the state’s Industrial Commission of Arizona pushed back against OSHA mandating the vaccine, stating that it has the authority to issue a vaccine mandate, not OSHA.
Additionally, they note a decision by a federal appeals court on November 6 blocking the Biden administration’s mandate as applied to private businesses with 100 or more employees.
The legislators ended their letter, “Workers should not have to choose between their right to earn a living and their medical freedom. Our Constitution protects and secures the right to vote. Arizona is still a right-to-work state. Let’s act like one.”
Many legislators, political candidates and local activists held a press conference and rally on December 7 denouncing the mandate, and then marched to the Phoenix City Council where a meeting was held to reconsider the mandate. State Rep. Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) said at the rally that there were enough votes in the legislature to pass legislation stopping the mandates.
Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who is ahead of her Republican opponents in polling, demanded to know “where’s Doug?” at the rally. “Where the hell is Doug?” she asked. The Trump-endorsed candidate has said if she were governor, she would halt vaccine and mask mandates immediately.
Phoenix announced that it was temporarily pausing the mandate on December 7 due to a federal court placing an injunction on President Joe Biden’s executive order mandating the vaccine for federal contractors. Phoenix initially said its mandate was implemented due to its federal contracts.
Phoenix is requiring all 13,000 employees to be vaccinated by January 18 or risk losing their jobs. Employees who get vaccinated are awarded $75. As of Tuesday, according to The Arizona Republic, 7,493 employees had been given awards, totaling $561,975.
Tucson also implemented a vaccine mandate, but did it on its own, not citing Biden’s executive order. No other cities in Arizona have implemented vaccine mandates.
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Phoenix City Hall” by sean horan. CC BY 2.0.