Lawmakers last legislative session introduced a slew of bills aimed at undermining the ability of job creators to set their own workplace policies, particularly when it comes to vaccine requirements.
Those attempts were unsuccessful, as the Legislature ultimately recognized that more government intrusion into private business is not good policy – and it’s not what Arizona is about. We are a state that embraces the free market and the authority of employers to run a business without the heavy hand of government getting in the way. It’s one of the things that has made us one of the most attractive destinations in the country for job creators looking to start or expand a business.
But there’s no expiration date on bad ideas. There’s been a resurrection of several measures this session that seek to punish employers who require vaccinations as a condition of employment.
It’s a debate that was fueled in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a reaction to attempts by the Biden administration to implement federal vaccine mandates on private employers. The Arizona Chamber and the broader business community at the time spoke out in forceful opposition to the move, and applauded the U.S. Supreme Court when it subsequently struck down the administration’s rule. Allowing these federal mandates to stand would have set bad precedent for future and potentially even more obtrusive government overreach into private workplaces.
In that vein, the Chamber recently asked to join as a party in Arizona’s challenge to a 2021 presidential executive order stating that any company doing business with federal contractors must establish a vaccine mandate for its employees. While this order was successfully challenged in a federal district court, the case is currently on appeal in the 9th Circuit.
Ironically, many of the so-called free enterprise champions who’ve stood with us in the fight against federal vaccine mandates, and who claim that government has no business dictating the policies of private employers, are continuing to push legislation at the state level that would – you guessed it – allow government to dictate the policies of private employers.
Our position is simple: A mandate is a mandate. And whether it comes from the feds telling business owners what they must do or the state telling business owners what they can’t do, the Chamber will be consistent in our opposition to any legislation that opens the door for government interference in private industry.
That goes for more than just vaccines. There’s a troubling theme this session of legislation that seeks to involve government in just about every aspect of an employer’s operations – stipulating everything from their internal workplace policies, to who they can and can’t do business with, right down to the payment options they must accept.
It’s a confusing and concerning time at the state Legislature when the same people who have never accused government of functioning efficiently or effectively now want to give them authority to control the operations of private businesses. Overlegislating and overregulating the free market with one-size-fits-all mandates has never turned out well – and we shouldn’t expect these efforts to be any different just because they’re coming from the state Capitol instead of Capitol Hill.
The Arizona Chamber will continue to reject legislation that promotes government overreach in favor of the pro-growth, free-market policies that foster job creation and competitiveness.
Danny Seiden is president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry