America Pack, a grassroots group “built to empower citizens to hold elected officials accountable, advocate for honest elections, support law enforcement, and fight for freedom and liberty,” has issued a list of its most important bills this session in the Arizona Legislature. The topics primarily address election integrity, education, and COVID-19. They must be scheduled to be heard in a committee by February 18, or the bill proposals will expire.
Merissa Hamilton, a local activist and former Phoenix mayoral candidate who has been pushing the word out about getting these bills heard in committee, told the Arizona Sun Times, “The grassroots in Arizona is on fire, leaving no stone unturned this session. We are committed to ensuring every bill with an opportunity to secure our elections, protect parental rights, or provide more liberty for individuals is heard this session.”
Hamilton added, “This year, our tenacity is critical, as depicted by House leadership choosing to fund systems above protecting parents’ and kids’ rights. We hope the Senate prioritizes our kids first in protecting families rather than rushing the AEL cap. The ASBA leaving the NSBA was a good start, but it’s not enough. We need our friends in the legislature to secure these key issues now for struggling Arizonans.”
Election Integrity – House Government and Elections Committee
HB 2023, sponsored by State Representative Mark Finchem (R-Mesa) with several co-sponsors, requires digital images of ballots to be posted publicly online after elections.
HB 2059, sponsored by State Representative Walt Blackman (R-Snowflake), bans unmonitored drop boxes for ballots, and places other restrictions on drop boxes such as no electioneering within 75 feet and previous notices posted about them. Early election board members are prohibited from considering political party when considering whether affidavits on ballot envelopes are sufficient.
HB 2079, sponsored by Finchem with several co-sponsors, limits the size of voter precincts and requires segregation of ballots by precinct and any from emergency voting centers.
HB 2080, sponsored by Finchem with several co-sponsors, requires hand counting of ballots in primary and general elections.
HB 2244, sponsored by John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction) with two co-sponsors, requires the state auditor general to “conduct systems and procedures audits of offices conducting the general election.”
HB 2376, sponsored by Bolick, establishes an election integrity commission that will regularly analyze laws and policies, finding ways to fix and improve them and improving transparency.
Bolick told the Sun Times the bill was ignored. “This bill was not heard by the House leadership. The chairman of the House Committee on Government and Elections never added it to its committee agenda. Having served on the House Committee on Elections my first two years, we would often hear from individuals testifying before the committee how certain statutes were antiquated and we needed to modernize the election processes the election officials were using and put it into statute. This bill would have helped ensure Title 16 is moving into a more modern era as well as make our elections fair and honest, but the chairman failed to give it a public hearing.”
HB 2377, sponsored by Bolick, prohibits people from taking photos or videos of others, including others’ ballots, within 75 feet of a polling place.
Bolick told the Sun Times, “This bill was killed last night by Representative Fillmore. A constituent brought me this bill idea in late 2019 after he was a poll observer during an election. He continued to see voters taking more than a handful of mail-in ballots into his polling precinct’s voting center. He contacted me only to find out he could not document these occurrences with his camera on his phone. To push back against voter fraud and ballot harvesting, he wanted us to have the ability for more transparency and accountability in the voting process so he could file a complaint with his findings to the state attorney general to investigate. It’s very hard to document ballot harvesting when you can’t take pictures or videos.”
HB 2380, sponsored by Bolick, provides a mechanism to complain to the Arizona Attorney General about ballot harvesting.
Bolick told the Sun Times that HB 2380 is probably not going forward. “This bill was assigned to the House Committee on Government and Elections and the chairman chose not to hear it in a public meeting. ”
HB 2491, sponsored by Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) with two co-sponsors, institutes a signature matching requirement for the signatures on ballots.
HCR 2025, sponsored by Finchem with several co-sponsors, limits voter ID to government issued IDs.
HB 2061, sponsored by Blackman with one co-sponsor, would require parental permission to teach children sex education in public and charter schools. It also requires sex ed to “promote abstinence” and dispel myths regarding the transmission of HPV. The health committee is also hearing this bill.
HB 2191, sponsored by Bolick with a co-sponsor, states that immunizations in school are not required for HIV, HPV, COVID-19 and drugs that have only emergency use authorization. This is also in the House Health Committee.
Bolick told the Sun Times that HB 2191 is probably dead. “This bill was assigned to the House Committee on Health and Human Services. Unfortunately, Chairman Osborne refused to hold a hearing on this bill. Many parents reached out to me in 2021 and demanded we push back against vaccine mandates, especially against HPV, COVID-19, and for any immunization under authorization by emergency use by the FDA.”
HB 2281, sponsored by Fillmore with several co-sponsors, prohibits schools from requiring vaccinations unless an outbreak has occurred, and adds penalties.
HB 2285, sponsored by Fillmore, requires parental permission to teach sex ed to children, including about AIDS. “Biological sex” shall be emphasized, not “gender identity” and “shall promote honor and respect for monogamous marriage.” It prohibits teaching about AIDS and HPV to children under sixth grade and provides penalties for violations. It also implements child abuse education and awareness.
HB 2370, sponsored by Bolick with several co-sponsors, requires schools to post teaching materials on their websites. This includes political activity such as “the contacting of elected officials” and “advocating for commenting on a political or social issue or participating in political or social demonstrations.
HB 2250, sponsored by Finchem with a co-sponsor, increases criminal penalties for fentanyl, carfentanil, and heroin.
HB 2365, sponsored by State Representative Jennifer Longdon (D-Phoenix), with one co-sponsor, increases protections for those seeking severe orders of protection. It also prohibits those served with an order of protection from possessing a firearm.
HB 2474, sponsored by State Representative Frank Carroll (R-Sun City) with several co-sponsors, prohibits healthcare institutions from discriminating against those who haven’t gotten a vaccine.
HB 2475, sponsored by Carroll with several co-sponsors, prohibits employers from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine.
HB 2478, sponsored by Carroll with several co-sponsors, prohibits public officials and government employees from stopping public schools from operating unless acting in good faith and in accordance with their duties.
HB 2611, sponsored by State Representative Judy Burges (R-Prescott) with several co-sponsors, makes it a class 1 misdemeanor for government or business to require a mask or COVID-19 vaccine, and may only require them on a student with parental consent.
SB 1354, sponsored by State Senator Wendy Rogers (R-Flagstaff), prohibits cities and counties from cutting the budget for law enforcement.
SB 1349, sponsored by Rogers, provides a mechanism to address the actions of cities and counties that cut the budgets of law enforcement. It includes cutting the budgets of those cities and towns by the same amounts they cut from the budgets of law enforcement.
SB 1130, sponsored by Rogers, criminalizes procedures to change a child or vulnerable adult’s gender.
SCR 1015, sponsored by Rogers, makes it an aggravated assault to assault a member of the National Guard or Border Patrol while they are conducting official duties. It also makes it a crime to disseminate on the internet personal information from either of those or an EMT or firefighter, as well as their immediate families.
SB 1033, sponsored by Rogers, increases criminal penalties related to rioting and assaulting a police officer.
HB 2064, sponsored by Blackman, states that immunizations in school are not required for HPV and COVID-19.
HB 2065, sponsored by Blackman, removes state law that says health departments may prohibit students from attending schools during outbreaks if they lack proof of vaccination.
HB 2292, sponsored by Fillmore with several co-sponsors, requires birth certificates to contain either male or female.
SB 1567, sponsored by Senator Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix), prohibits the state, local governments, and their business affiliations from requiring a vaccine passport, discriminating against anyone over their vaccine status, and contracting from any entity that does. There is a specific, carved out exception for healthcare institutions.
SB 1045, sponsored by Rogers, restricts teachers, counselors, nurses, principals and other administrative officials at public and private schools from withholding information from parents related to their children questioning their gender, or from encouraging the child to withhold that information. It also criminalizes procedures to change a child’s gender.
SB 1605, sponsored by Senator Townsend (R-Apache Junction) with a co-sponsor, prohibits healthcare institutions from receiving financial compensation for patient deaths or diagnoses.
SB 1413, sponsored by Rogers, prohibits a pharmacist from refusing to fill a prescription.
SB 1297, sponsored by Rogers, restricts a healthcare institution from prohibiting a religious counselor from visiting a patient during a public health emergency except for under specific limited circumstances.
SB 1015, sponsored by Townsend, prohibits a parent from accessing a child’s medical records if a court order is in place prohibiting them from having any contact with the child.
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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].
Photo “Mark Finchem” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 3.0. Background Photo “Arizona State Capitol” by Wars. CC BY-SA 3.0.