The Arizona Supreme Court Should Uphold New Laws Banning Mask Mandates, Vaccine Mandates, and Critical Race Theory

The Arizona Supreme Court Should Uphold New Laws Banning Mask Mandates, Vaccine Mandates, and Critical Race Theory

This past July, Arizona lawmakers and Governor Ducey did the right thing. Through a series of Budget Reconciliation Bills, they took important steps to protect the people of Arizona from more COVID mandates and to prevent children from being indoctrinated in public schools by Critical Race Theory.

While COVID was certainly an issue that warranted some action, it never should have included trampling on the rights of the people. And we definitely should not be wasting tax dollars on lessons that teach public school students that one race, ethnic group, or sex is in any way superior to another.

Not surprisingly, these laws sent teachers’ unions into a tailspin. As students headed back to campus, some Arizona schools decided to teach students that it’s ok to violate the law. And the Arizona Board of Regents recently announced that all three state universities will require their employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 8.

Then, there’s the lawsuit. In August, the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) joined with several other groups to sue the State of Arizona to stop the ban on mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and Critical Race Theory.

In fact, they believe in their lawsuit so much that a month later, the ASBA turned around and held a conference indoors where multiple attendees were maskless! Rules for thee, but not for me, apparently.

Unfortunately, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper struck down our state’s ban on mask mandates, vaccine mandates, vaccine passports, and Critical Race Theory last month. Thankfully, it didn’t take long before Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich appealed to our state’s Supreme Court.

The justices will hear the case on November 2, and there’s a lot at stake.

If the Arizona Supreme Court fails to uphold these laws, it would set a new precedent where courts could come in after the fact to determine whether provisions in Budget Reconciliation Bills are necessary to implement the budget. Determining the relationship of policy and budget appropriations is a delicate issue, and the Supreme Court needs to be careful not to set a bad precedent that empowers unelected judges to strike down laws that have a direct budgetary relationship simply because they don’t like the new policy.

Make no mistake, a ruling from the state’s highest court against these laws will not stop the battle over these critical issues. And we all know how that’s gone so far:

    • Masks on kids may cause psychological harm with no study to back them up.
    • Hospitals are overwhelmed and public safety is at risk because of staffing shortages caused by the vaccine mandate.
    • Parents around the state are catching on and speaking up against Critical Race Theory in their children’s public schools.

We will know soon enough if the Supreme Court upholds these critical laws. If they do not, then Governor Ducey and Attorney General Brnovich MUST NOT back down. They must exhaust all options to protect the people of Arizona from COVID mandates, Critical Race Theory, and more government overreach.

After all, your tax dollars should not be funding political commentary in our schools. And the government must be stopped from any more unlawful power grabs.

Help Protect Freedom in Arizona by Joining Our Grassroots Network

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If Hospitals Are Overwhelmed, Maybe They Should Stop Threatening to Fire Staff

If Hospitals Are Overwhelmed, Maybe They Should Stop Threatening to Fire Staff

As if COVID hysteria hasn’t been bad enough, President Biden took it to the next level last month. In a troubling press conference, Biden announced vaccine mandates for private companies that employ 100 or more people—making sure to emphasize that this is not about “freedom or personal choice.”

But this wasn’t the first time we’d heard about mandatory vaccines. Some employers around the country, especially those in healthcare, already had their own mandates in place.

And so far, the consequences have been disastrous. In the past month:

    • One hospital in New York (which had announced its own vaccine mandate in August) had to pause delivering babies after experiencing mass staff resignations due to the vaccine mandate.
    • Also, in New York, Governor Hochul had to deploy the National Guard to fill hospital staff shortages.
    • In Houston, 153 hospital staff members either resigned or were fired for refusing to get the vaccine.
    • And in Louisiana, the CEO of the state’s largest hospital system said in August that they “cannot find” nurses to bring in for help with the shortages. So, what did he do about it? The hospital doubled down on its mandate, now instituting fines for employees with unvaccinated spouses!

Arizona certainly hasn’t been immune to the problem. Right here in our very own state, one hospital administrator told AZ Free News that there have been issues ensuring beds at smaller hospitals due to delays in replacing equipment. But the main issue, the administrator said, is that Arizona’s larger hospital chains are losing staff due to the vaccine mandates.

Despite all this, the establishment media continues to beat the same drum. They want you to believe that hospitals are near or over capacity even though the current wave, which is subsiding, has been much smaller than previous waves.

But perhaps the problem isn’t more cases and COVID hospitalizations. Perhaps the problem is that hospitals are overwhelmed because they are experiencing staffing shortages due to the vaccine mandate. Or what if the capacity issues are tied to other contagious illnesses, such as RSV? Or maybe it’s because people are now starting to deal with other ailments and elective surgeries that they’ve been putting off because of COVID.

Of course, corporate media doesn’t want to look into these possibilities. Nor do they want to ask questions about why so many good healthcare professionals, who have stood on the frontlines of the pandemic, are refusing the vaccine.

Instead, they want to turn these medical professionals into villains, simply because they refuse to fall into line and get the jab. No dissent, discussion, or debate is allowed in the woke media echo chamber.

These divisive and authoritarian tactics must stop. If someone wants to get a vaccine for COVID, or anything else, they should have the freedom to do so. And if they don’t want the vaccine, that should be their choice.

But no free people should ever be compelled by force of government into certain medical decisions they disagree with.

Giving up that freedom could cost us a lot. And now, it’s costing us a lot of vital healthcare professionals—and some hospital beds.

Help Protect Freedom in Arizona by Joining Our Grassroots Network

Arizona needs to have a unified voice promoting economic freedom and prosperity, and the Free Enterprise Club is committed to making that happen. But we can’t do it alone. We need YOU!

Join our FREE Grassroots Action List to stay up to date on the latest battles against big government and how YOU can help influence crucial bills at the Arizona State Legislature.

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ Election Manual Is Filled with Unlawful Changes—Ducey and Brnovich Must Reject Them

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ Election Manual Is Filled with Unlawful Changes—Ducey and Brnovich Must Reject Them

Laws are meaningless if they aren’t enforced, are misapplied or misconstrued. The duly elected Arizona legislature crafts and passes election bills, and the Governor signs them into law. The Secretary of State, however, is tasked with prescribing “rules to achieve and maintain the maximum degree of correctness, impartiality, uniformity and efficiency” in implementing those laws.

This is done through the Elections Procedures Manual (EPM). But instead of crafting this with “impartiality” to attain the “maximum degree of correctness” Secretary of State Katie Hobbs seems intent on subverting state law in some instances, obfuscating in others, and as highlighted in a previous article, doing an end-run around a United States Supreme Court decision that upheld an Arizona election integrity practice.

The good news is that Hobbs doesn’t have unilateral authority to do this. She was required to submit this draft manual to Attorney General Brnovich and Governor Ducey by October 1st. Both have to sign off on the draft manual for it to go into effect. If they decline, we stick with the 2019 manual and Hobbs’s changes die.

Sending Illegally Registered Non-Citizens Instructions on How to Re-Register to Vote

Until the 2020 election, the state was operating under the manual from 2014 produced by then Secretary of State Ken Bennett. This is because Secretary Michelle Reagan did not submit a draft in 2016 and in 2018 Ducey declined to approve her changes.

Some areas of law have not changed since then, but the procedures manual has. One of these instances is around noncitizens who are registered to vote, individuals most often listed as “federal only” voters.

The 2014 manual requires the Secretary of State to send County Recorders juror questionnaires they receive on which an individual has indicated they are not a US citizen. The manual instructs Recorders to check if the individual is registered to vote and, if so, cancel the registration. Further, it encourages Recorders to then notify the County Attorney or Attorney General. Why? Because the individual has either perjured themselves on the juror form (a crime) or they are not a US citizen and fraudulently registered to vote (also a crime).

Compare this to Katie Hobbs’s manual. In it, Hobbs instructs Recorders to send these individuals a notice informing them of their indication of not being a citizen on a juror questionnaire and that they have 35 days to send in Documentary Proof of Citizenship (DPOC). If they send in DPOC, they become a “full ballot” voter. If they don’t, then the registration will be cancelled.

However, Hobbs’s manual goes a step further by instructing Recorder’s to send a notice of cancellation to the individual that actually gives instructions on how to re-register. And it has no mention of informing the County Attorney or Attorney General to investigate what has been committed, likely a felony act.

End Run Around Brnovich v. DNC

In Arizona, counties can conduct elections by precinct polling locations or vote centers. For precinct polling, voters can only vote in their assigned precinct. If they show up at a wrong location, election workers are instructed to direct the voter to the correct precinct. If the voter insists on voting, they can cast a provisional ballot instead of going to the correct location. However, they are informed that unless they prove they are eligible to vote in that precinct, the ballot won’t tallied.

Democrats sued over the law. The case was taken all the way to the US Supreme Court and this summer the Court decided. The opinion in Brnovich v. DNC completely upheld this out-of-precinct prohibition. In it, Justice Alito writes “precinct-based voting has a long pedigree in the United States, and the policy of not counting out-of-precinct ballots is widespread.”

But it seems Katie Hobbs doesn’t care about what the highest court in the nation says, because she inserted a few short lines in the manual this year directing election officials to duplicate these provisional ballots and tally the votes for elections for which they are eligible. This is a total end-run around state law and the US Supreme Court. It’s also a practice Justice Alito expressly mentioned in the majority opinion, writing that “partially counting out-of-precinct ballots would complicate the process of tabulation and could lead to disputes and delay.” This change must be rejected.

Delayed Cleanup of Mail-In Ballot Rolls (SB1485)

It doesn’t stop there. This past session, Republican legislators passed SB1485. The law requires counties to send a notice to voters on the Permanent Early Voter List (now Active Early Voter List) who have not voted in any election for the past two election cycles. If the voter fails to respond to the notice within 90 days, they are removed from AEVL and would have to vote in-person or re-enroll in the program to receive a mail-in ballot.

Though disagreement exists about whether this bill allows counties to look “retroactively” at the last two election cycles of non-voting to immediately start sending notices, or whether they must wait for a voter to not vote in 2022 and 2024 before sending a notice, many lawmakers who passed it and the organizations who advocated for its passage, SB1485 was always intended to take effect immediately. It is a reasonable interpretation of the bill and the intent of the bill’s sponsor.

A top election lawyer in the nation agrees. Hans von Spakovsky, whom President Trump appointed to his Presidential Advisory Council on Election Integrity in 2017, served on the Federal Election Commission, and was a litigator in the Justice Department, opined that “SB1485 will go into effect immediately after passage, not in 2026 as some have claimed.”

Attorney General Brnovich should issue his own opinion affirming this interpretation and require this change in the EPM, before signing his approval.

Procedures for Signature Verification

Lastly, with the findings in the Audit Report and a recent article about Cochise County Recorder David Stevens on ballot envelopes, it is apparent that there is a lack of uniformity in how signatures on early ballot envelopes are verified and that there are areas of concern.

For instance, the report from EchoMail and the most recent response from Maricopa County indicate that before election workers look at mail in ballots, a private company scans them all, downgrades the image quality, and then hands them over to election officials. The County then compares these downgraded scans of ballot envelopes to the signature on file to, somehow, come to the conclusion that the handwriting matches. In Cochise County, Stevens says they compare the actual ballot envelope to voter registration files, not low-quality scans.

Unfortunately, the process isn’t spelled out in statute, so the EPM is used to ensure procedures are in place to comply with the laws that do exist – and that there is uniformity. Nowhere in statute or in the EPM does it say counties could or should use a private company to scan these and that the scans, instead of the physical envelopes, can or should be used for signature verification.

This is certainly an area that Brnovich should push to ensure the procedures in the EPM first and foremost comply with statute and the spirit of the law, but secondly are uniformly enforced around the state.

What We Can Do

These are just four areas of concern, and there are many others.

The Free Enterprise Club will be sending a letter to the Attorney General and Governor Ducey with a detailed list of issues in the EPM, but they need to hear from constituents too. That’s why Arizonans should let them know that we want an election system where it easy to vote, and hard to cheat. That means that Governor Ducey and Attorney General Brnovich should REJECT every proposed change by Katie Hobbs that either violates state law or attempts to rewrite it. They can stop this from happening, and we need to encourage them to do so.

Help Protect Freedom in Arizona by Joining Our Grassroots Network

Arizona needs to have a unified voice promoting economic freedom and prosperity, and the Free Enterprise Club is committed to making that happen. But we can’t do it alone. We need YOU!

Join our FREE Grassroots Action List to stay up to date on the latest battles against big government and how YOU can help influence crucial bills at the Arizona State Legislature.

Backers of Prop 208 Are Trying to Stop Tax Cuts That Benefit All Arizonans

Backers of Prop 208 Are Trying to Stop Tax Cuts That Benefit All Arizonans

Arizona taxpayers have had good reason to celebrate over the past few months. Not only did Republicans deliver historic tax cuts earlier this year, but the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that Prop 208 is unconstitutional.

This should be a time of rejoicing for the people of Arizona who will get some much-needed relief while still trying to recover from COVID shutdowns.

But the backers of Prop 208 won’t give up. They are angry and upset that their unconstitutional tax hike was struck down. Now, their latest move is to target the $1.8 billion tax cut that would establish a flat tax and provide a tax cut to all Arizonans.

Last week, Invest in Arizona, a political committee sponsored by the Arizona Education Association and Stand for Children, submitted a referendum to put the historic tax cuts on the ballot for voters to decide its fate.

And not surprisingly, this effort has a few similarities to last year’s Prop 208 campaign.

Let’s start with the signature collection effort, which was bought and paid for by the teachers’ union and Stand for Children. During the final weeks of their signature collection campaign, these two special interest groups flooded the streets with hundreds of paid circulators in an attempt to buy their way onto the ballot. In total, they employed 619 paid circulators, many of which likely have criminal records and were not properly registered with the Secretary of State.

Then, there’s the lies.

In the case of Prop 208, voters were consistently lied to about how the tax wouldn’t affect small businesses. But it did, which resulted in several small businesses leaving the state.

And the lies didn’t stop there. Prop 208 backers also said that the tax did not try to skirt the constitutional expenditure limitation. Thankfully, this lie ultimately doomed the measure in the Arizona Supreme Court.

Now, with this referendum, the lies continue.

Invest in Arizona is telling voters that the legislature cut education funding, which is blatantly false. Conservative leaders passed the historic $1.8 billion tax cut while spending a record high amount for education with hundreds of millions in new funding for K-12 and universities.

And to top it all off, Invest in Arizona is telling the people of Arizona that signing the referendum will restore over $1 billion in education funding. But this is a total lie! The referendum has nothing to do with education!

More than likely, this entire effort is just as unconstitutional as Prop 208. That’s why the Club filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of referring the tax cuts to the ballot. Right now, our case is currently awaiting a hearing in Superior Court, and we are optimistic that it has a high chance of success.

After all, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has decided to remain neutral, despite being named in the lawsuit. And Attorney General Mark Brnovich field a motion for leave, along with an amicus brief urging the court to rule in our favor.

But regardless of what happens at the Superior Court, we are committed to pursuing our legal challenge all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court, if necessary. And as the process for reviewing the validity of the referendum signatures begins, you can rest assured knowing that the Club will be watching to ensure that all illegal and fraudulent signatures are removed from the petition total.

Invest in Arizona may not like it, but the people have already spoken. The tax reform package was voted on and approved by 90 lawmakers who were duly elected by the people of Arizona. And it was signed by Governor Ducey who was also duly elected by the people or Arizona. That means it should be here to stay.

Help Protect Freedom in Arizona by Joining Our Grassroots Network

Arizona needs to have a unified voice promoting economic freedom and prosperity, and the Free Enterprise Club is committed to making that happen. But we can’t do it alone. We need YOU!

Join our FREE Grassroots Action List to stay up to date on the latest battles against big government and how YOU can help influence crucial bills at the Arizona State Legislature.

Arizona Audit Recommends Universal Voter ID—Just Like We’ve Been Saying for Years

Arizona Audit Recommends Universal Voter ID—Just Like We’ve Been Saying for Years

Easy to vote and hard to cheat. That should be the benchmark for every single election we have.

Voters should not have to choose between having a secure election or having an accessible election. They can have both. And in Arizona, we’ve certainly made our elections accessible.

But that hasn’t always been the case with the security of our elections. And the results of the Arizona audit issued in September show just that.

These are significant issues that need to be addressed. Thankfully, the audit report made multiple recommendations that are common-sense election integrity policies.

And the most important one is something we’ve been saying for years:

Mail-in voting should incorporate an objective standard of verification for early voter identification, similar to the ID requirements required for in person voting.

Yes. The Arizona audit recommended instituting universal ID. And that’s why right now is the perfect time for the Arizonans for Voter ID Act.

 This initiative for the November 2022 ballot would:

    • Improve existing in-person voter ID.
    • Establish voter ID for mail-in ballots.
    • Deter ballot harvesting by enhancing voter ID requirements.
    • Provide a FREE voter ID option to lawfully registered Arizona voters who need it for voting.

Think about what this would mean for future elections. For one, we would no longer need to rely on a highly subjective process to verify signatures, which can often lead to illegal votes being counted and legal votes not being counted.

In addition, this initiative would make it nearly impossible for someone to vote in our state after they had moved.

And to top it all off, requiring universal voter ID would not be cumbersome.

The people of Arizona already provide basic identification in their daily lives to purchase alcohol or cigarettes, obtain a driver’s license, board a commercial flight, donate blood, open a bank account, purchase a firearm, receive unemployment benefits, obtain auto insurance, purchase or rent a home, and more.

It’s commonsense that we should we require the same for something as important as voting in an election. Thankfully, most Arizonans agree.

Statewide polling from earlier this year shows that an overwhelming majority of Arizona voters support voter ID requirements. In fact, every race and ethnicity support voter ID, along with the majority of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats.

Now, the audit’s recommendation makes it clear. It’s time for universal voter ID in Arizona. It would ensure that our elections are still easy to vote in while making it that much harder to cheat. And that’s something every single resident in Arizona should be able to get behind.

You Can Make a Difference

Elections should be both accessible and secure. That’s why universal voter ID is so important. We must protect the ballot of every qualified Arizona voter and ensure the integrity of our elections.

Find out more about this initiative and what YOU can do to ensure it makes it onto the November 2022 ballot.