It is becoming increasingly clear that the Covid surge does not exist for Republicans in the Arizona State Legislature and Governor’s office. Or else they are trying to silence the voices of people who fear Covid — and are the same ones who oppose their extreme right-wing agenda.
Take Gov. Doug Ducey. He thinks it would be a good idea, during a Covid Omicron variant surge, to give his final State of the State Address in person on January 10, 2022.
Democrats like Rep. Mitzi Epstein (D-LD18) are having none of that. She posted on January 5, 2022:
GOP shuts up the opposition
Furthermore, the Republican leadership in the state Legislature has decided that remote citizen testimony on matters before legislative committees is no longer needed or necessary — during a COVID 19 surge. This is clearly a move designed to shut up opponents to the extreme-right agenda the Republicans want to pursue in the 2022 legislative session.
David Lujan, the former Arizona Democratic legislative leader and head of the Children’s Action Alliance, protested this move, posting on social media:
All Arizonans should have the ability to participate in the legislative process. Allowing remote testimony is something that the legislature already has the capability to do, if they wanted to. The only reason not to would be to keep some from having a voice at the Capitol. https://t.co/9TAanuc8Ns
— David Lujan (@DavidLujan) January 7, 2022
Bowers: pregnant women can’t work and vote from home
The most horrific example of this Republican disregard for the safety of others including the unborn and newborns is the apparent proclamation from Arizona House Speaker Russell Bowers that legislators can not participate in committees or vote on measures from a safer location like home.
This development rightfully startled State Rep. Athena Salman (D-LD26), who is due to have a baby next week. She wrote a letter to Mr. Bowers, requesting prior COVID safety considerations for her and her child.
🚨On Tuesday, I wrote to Speaker Bowers to request the same accommodations to work remotely from home that we had in 2021. Session starts Monday, a 𝙙𝙖𝙮 𝙗𝙚𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙚 my baby’s due date. The Speaker ignored my request & then eliminated remote work amidst a huge #COVID surge 1/4 pic.twitter.com/nVKaiFs7ry
— Rep. Athena Salman (@AthenaSalman) January 7, 2022
As of this morning (January 8, 2022), Rep. Salman has not heard a response to her request from Speaker Bowers.
Bowers’ behavior is disgusting. So much for Republicans claiming to be the pro-life party. They are also acting with pure vindictiveness, given Rep. Salman’s strenuous opposition to the voting suppression measures sought in the last session by Jake “Troll Farm” Hoffman,
Some of Salman’s colleagues in the House are letting Mr. Bowers have it on social media. The Arizona House Democrats posted:
To be clear, this decision was about politics not public health. There is no defensible logic to rolling back accommodations from last session with the #COVID19 pandemic still raging. https://t.co/lKNo8fMOLP
— Arizona House Democrats (@AZHouseDems) January 8, 2022
Rep. Mitzi Epstein (D-LD18) posted:
Speaker Bowers has the power to protect the health of new moms & their babies
in our workplace, the #AZleg .
But he is not.
Just let that sink in.
Republicans who can fix this:@speakerbowers @RepBenToma @TravisGrantham
Will they do the right thing? #RemoteTestimony https://t.co/otA5SOTH4y
— Sen. Mitzi Epstein (@MitziEpstein) January 8, 2022
State Rep. Kelli Butler (D-LD28) wrote:
— Kelli Butler (@KelliButlerAZ) January 7, 2022
Arizona State Representative (and fellow Blog of Arizona contributor) Pamela Powers Hannley (D-LD9) commented on a brief phone conversation that the opening of the session with the State of the State address is “a super spreader event” that “denies the reality” of the moment.
Furthermore, she relayed that these Republican moves were not safe for pregnant women like Salman or other legislators with preexisting health conditions like Rep. Andrea Dalessandro (D-LD2), who also posted on social media:
Floor and Committees went very smoothly last year in the AZ House. While I put Representative Athena Salman on the TOP of the PRIORITY list, I want all of my colleagues and support staff to be safe. Many have preexisting conditions. I also support remote testimony. https://t.co/BQHxmgYwid
— Andrea Dalessandro (@Dalessandro4AZ) January 8, 2022
Hannley concluded by stating that the data shows that the process should remain “opened up” and all this is a clear attempt by Republican leadership to “shut down the people.”
Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman posted:
Soon to be and new parents should be valued and respected in the workplace.
Rep. Salman isn’t asking for anything outrageous, just some human decency and the ability to do her job and keep her family and baby healthy. https://t.co/m1TwDM86qn
— Kathy Hoffman (@kathyhoffman_az) January 7, 2022
This is 2022. Leaders should not make it harder for people to participate in the legislative process, especially during a pandemic. They should make it easier.
They should also have the maturity and openness to want to hear from people that do not share their views and not look for ways to silence them.
They should also make accommodations for people with health conditions. That obviously includes pregnant women and people with pre existing health conditions.
This is yet another example (as if people needed more) that demonstrates that the current incarnation of the Republican Party does not serve the public interest.
Write or call the Republican Leadership at the Arizona State Legislature and demand that they take these burdensome restrictions away and maintain the same COVID 19 safety measures that were in place last year.
It is the right thing to do.