Who would have thought that nearly a month after Joe Biden declared martial law and forced a vaccine mandate upon many workers in all 50 states, not a single red state has effectively combated it yet? To this day, thousands of people have been forced to either get the experimental shots against their will or lose their livelihoods, despite the failing efficacy of the shots accelerating every day. A perfect example of this dynamic is playing out in the state of Arkansas.
Arkansas Republicans cannot even support a degree of a compromise on the totalitarian vaccine mandate that would limit the mandate to the degree that New York was pushing just a few weeks ago! One would think opposing any vaccine mandate in a state like Arkansas with a supermajority trifecta would be a slam dunk. Any "private" business mandate is being done at the behest and cajoling of government and cannot be chalked up to free market activity. Yet the same RINO governor who had no problem placing mandates on "the private sector" to shut down businesses and fine them last year is suddenly concerned about their "right" to force employees to violate their bodies.
"Employers have the freedom to protect the health of their workplace, and government should not interfere with the employee/employer relationship," Asa Hutchinson said in a statement released by his office after supporting fines on businesses all last year for NOT engaging in COVID fascism. Freedom is a one-way street in his book.
Because of Hutchinson's unflinching grip on many RINOs in the legislature, full opposition to workplace jab mandates was out of the question for conservatives in the legislature. As such, they opted for a watered-down bill (SB 739) allowing for an exemption for those with antibodies and an opt-out to get PCR-tested once a week. This bill would essentially bring Arkansas back to where New York was just a few weeks ago, yet still a number of Hutchinson allies in the Senate opposed it.
On Tuesday, the House voted 68-23 to pass the bill. But even though it also passed the Senate on Monday, it failed to achieve the two-thirds support it needs to be implemented immediately. Pursuant to Arkansas law, for a bill to be implemented right away without the 90-day layover period, it must pass as an emergency declaration, which requires 24 votes in the Senate. Yet even though Republicans have 27 senators, four of them defected and declined to declare it an emergency: Cecile Bledsoe, Lance Eads, Jonathan Dismang, and none other than Senate president pro tempore Jimmy Hickey.
Now, why would the GOP Senate president vote against immediately implementing a watered-down bill to allow a testing exemption that even New York was allowing until recently? People are being forced to make life-altering decisions right now and cannot afford to wait 90 days. Many have already been forced to get the shot or lose their jobs without any relief from the legislature.
Many of these Republicans hide behind concerns about "regulating" businesses, but they never seemed to be concerned when the businesses were regulated into bankruptcy during the shutdown.
Ultimately, SB 739 will become law in Arkansas, after it's already too late for many workers, but it's a shame they couldn't pass a clear restriction on vaccine mandates. S. 732 would have done just that, but failed to get two-thirds' support in the Senate and was blocked by the House committee on public health. SB 730, which would have authorized unemployment benefits for those who lost their jobs due to mandates, passed the Senate but was thrown out on procedural grounds by House speaker Matthew Shepherd. It's amazing how GOP leaders in red-state legislatures tend to elevate alleged concerns over procedure over basic human rights during an unprecedented time of suspension of civil liberties.
Throughout this entire ordeal, presumptive front-runner for governor next year Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been awfully quiet. Conservatives who want a change from Asa Hutchinson could sure use a voice who is not bought out by Walmart and Tysons.
When looking for gubernatorial candidates, conservatives need to take their cues from Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is not only promising to ban all COVID mandates outright in her challenge to Governor Brad Little, but for the second time, she used Little's absence to temporarily bar mandates while serving as acting governor. On Tuesday, McGeachin barred all businesses from requiring vaccine passports and also called up the Idaho National Guard to potentially deploy to the southern border. The last time Little was out of state, McGeachin used her power as acting governor to bar mask mandates. While Little will countermand this order as he did her last one, McGeachin is demonstrating what red-state leadership looks like. Where are the other leaders?
Throughout the next few weeks, a number of states will be meeting to redraw the election maps. This is a perfect time to address the coercive mandates and other emergent issues that are of even greater urgency than reapportionment. Alabama conservatives, for example, have introduced a very important bill that can be used as a model in other states. HB 31 would subject employers to liability for injury if they require their workers to get the shots. This was the original position of OSHA and is in line with current law regarding workplace injury.
On Aug. 1, 1776, just a few weeks after signing the Declaration of Independence, Sam Adams spoke before a large audience at the State House in Philadelphia, beseeching them to fight for their independence. During the speech, he warned the public that "our contest is not only whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty."