COVID obviously has impacted us on many levels over the past two years – and last Wednesday families gave the Senate HHS committee a firehose-full of the devastating effects some COVID policies have had on their lives and their loved ones. These are matters of life and death. And unfortunately, without legislation, they will continue. The heart-wrenching testimony was long (and many waited hours to have their stories heard), emotional and difficult to hear – but so important for legislators to know about and address. I’m pleased to report that three of the four bills (previewed to you last week) advanced out of committee.
Hospital Visitation – SB 1514 – Passed Senate HHS 6-2; Next stop- floor- with some common sense amendments proposed by the hospitals. Watch (starting 3:08:09) the hours-long testimony of those separated from loved ones in the hospital during sickness and passing, but be ready to be brought to tears. As one woman who couldn’t testify shared with me… “We had a family friend separated from his family for 60 days before he died in May 2020. It was horrendous and what got me involved with medical freedom at all.” There are simply too many of these stories. Time to get this bill passed and ensure in statute a patient’s right to support and visitation.
Help Not Harm – SB 1138 – FAILED in Senate HHS 4-4. After hearing moving testimony from both sides that made clearer than ever that the lives and futures of children are at stake from radical gender ideology gone mad, a Republican Senator made the decision to kill the bill in committee. While the bill is dead for now, the risk of gender change procedures to children are alive and well and I plan to bring it back next week with amendments that will give these children protections. We aren’t done fighting on their behalf. Watch the amazing testimony of Dr. Paul Hruz – especially the Q&A (starting at 00:13:45).
Patients’ Right to Refuse Care – SB 1393 – Passed Senate HHS 5-3; Next stop- floor. Once again, common sense isn’t so common in the health care landscape of COVID-19. Watch the testimony here (starting at 05:31:00). I’m pleased that the bill enshrining the fundamental right of patients to refuse is moving forward – with enforceable accountability.
Religious Exemptions, SB 1567 – Passed Senate HHS 5-3; Next stop- floor. If employers mandate vaccination (and when an accommodation for the employee poses an undue burden), federal law requires a religious exemption be offered – and with respect to what qualifies as a religious belief, federal law broadly “define(s) religious practices to include moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong which are sincerely-held with the strength of traditional religious views.” Yet many employers are subjectively imposing their own definition. SB 1567 codifies the federal standard, simplifying this issue for everyone. We heard powerful testimony (ICYMI – watch here, starting at 06:21:00) on the impact of individuals who are denied their Constitutional and First Amendment rights when it comes to medical decisions – and the unreasonable inability to use natural immunity as a viable substitute for vaccination. As one testimony succinctly stated, my bill “allows for the return to the more sensible, non-invasive, pre-COVID universal exemption policies of the past” that “enabled automatic vaccine exemptions and came with an implied respect for the individual’s religious and personally held beliefs.” Employees expressed fearing repercussions from the feds, but states are winning against these unconstitutional federal mandates in court – and Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia have joined together in fighting the remaining CMS rule (for medical providers).
Finally, check out my editorial about my bill removing barriers to increasing the number of qualified licensed physicians in Arizona. SB 1331, which passed committee this week, eliminates duplicative residency required for trained international medical school graduates (from designated countries) who have already accomplished a similar equivalent residency program and who wish to treat patients as a licensed physician in Arizona. It’s one of many common sense steps we can take towards addressing Arizona’s statewide – and nationwide – physician shortage.
Here’s what to look for next week:
My agenda is chock full again next Wednesday – the main focus of which will be improving Arizona’s mental health system. Check out all the bills here.
Virtual Walking for the win! Finally, time is of the essence and I’m still short of my needed signatures. If you would lend me a hand, I would be grateful! If you reside in the old LD15 and you haven’t signed my petition yet, please do so here and forward it around! And – even better – if you can spare some time to walk neighborhoods and collect signatures, email me here. We’ll get you set up! This race is going to be important for the future of our freedoms and the balance of Arizona’s Senate.
Quote Worth Re-Quoting
“The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph.” George Washington