Arizona GOP House Speaker won’t let a pregnant lawmaker work remotely? That’s insane

Rep. Athena Salman/.YouTube

Opinion: Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers wants lawmakers voting in person, even if that could be tricky for a new mom like Rep. Athena Salman.

By Elvia Díaz | Arizona Republic

Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers is kicking off the 2022 legislative session by forcing lawmakers to return to “normal” amid the raging spread of the omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19.

By “normal” Bowers means in-person participation or miss out on committee hearings and/or House votes.

The speaker is being gracious enough to grant exceptions to participate remotely – for health reasons – but even so the lawmakers must still vote from his or her office inside the Capitol.

It’s crazy to force lawmakers to drive to the Capitol and expose themselves to the highly transmissible virus as a condition to do the work that people elected them to do.

Salman wants to protect her soon-to-be-born child

Democratic Rep. Athena Salman is furious about the protocol and says Bowers is just weaponizing the virus.

She’s right.  

Salman and her husband, state Sen. Juan Mendez, are expecting the birth of their first child as early as this week, just as the legislative session begins.

“This policy will encourage infectious members to come to work sick and put all legislators and the public in jeopardy of contracting COVID-19 and spreading it to vulnerable persons in their households,” Salman told me.

She isn’t going to put her newborn, unvaccinated child at risk – and she shouldn’t. But will she have to miss legislating entirely? She might if Bowers doesn’t grant her special permission.

‘Normal’? There is no ‘normal’ anymore

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