Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) has determined that Tucson’s ordinance requiring city workers to get vaccinated for the Chinese coronavirus violates state law and is in direct conflict with Gov. Doug Ducey’s (R) executive order. As such, his office is ordering the city to rescind or amend the order or risk losing millions of dollars in state funding, officials announced Tuesday.
Brnovich’s office announced an investigation into Tucson’s ordinance last month, as the city of Tucson is requiring city employees to get vaccinated for the Chinese coronavirus. At the time, the city announced that city employees would need to show proof of vaccination by August 24 or risk five days of suspension without compensation. Employees who refuse would also risk higher insurance premiums.
“We have found that the city’s ordinance violates state law and also is in direct conflict with the governor’s executive order,” officials at the state attorney general’s office told reporters Tuesday afternoon. Officials informed the city that it must “rescind or amend its ordinance or lose millions of dollars of state funding,” according to officials.
In a statement on Tuesday, Brnovich called Tucson’s vaccine mandate “illegal.”
“Tucson’s vaccine mandate is illegal, and the city could be held liable for attempting to force employees to take it against their beliefs,” he said in a press release. “COVID-19 vaccinations should be a choice, not a government mandate.”
Officials at Brnovich’s office reiterated the attorney general’s belief that the coronavirus vaccine “should be a choice — not a government mandate.”
“And the legislature’s intent was clear when it passed Senate Bill 1824 this year,” one official said. That bill specifically bars local governments and the state from imposing vaccine mandates, although the law does not go into effect until September 29. However, officials say the city of Tucson is also in violation of the governor’s executive order, which prohibits localities from implementing vaccine mandates.
“Adhering to the rule of law in Arizona is not optional. It’s everyone’s responsibility, including the city of Tucson,” the official said.
“General Brnovich strongly believes that in all medical and health decisions, all Americans have the right to try and the right not to try, and we can’t have one without the other,” she continued.
Officials again warned that Tucson must “immediately rescind its ordinance, or it will be, again, at risk for losing millions of dollars in state shared revenue.” Brnovich specifically warned that if the state does not take action in the next 30 days, “the AGO will notify the Arizona Treasurer, who will withhold the city’s portion of state shared revenue until it comes into compliance.”
“Additionally, the AGO believes the City of Tucson could subject itself to potential liability claims if it were to take adverse action against an employee who relies on E.O. 2021-18 and state law to refuse the vaccine,” his office added.
Gov. Ducey’s executive order, which he issued last month, states, “Any county, city, town or political subdivision official that implements a vaccine mandate contrary to the authorities outlined in this order, is in violation of A.R.S. 36-114 and 36-184 and such actions are punishable by a class 3 misdemeanor and subject to legal action by individuals for violation of their rights under Arizona law.”