City of Tucson to join lawsuits against Arizona Legislature

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Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 11:20 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The City of Tucson made a big move Wednesday night against the State of Arizona.

Tucson City Council voted unanimously to join two separate lawsuits challenging the Arizona Legislature.

In a special meeting, Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin requested the authority to join as a “Friend of the Court” (Amicus Curiae) in pending litigation challenging the legislature’s unconstitutional adoption of budget reconciliation bills.

The lawsuits allege lawmakers included provisions that violate Arizona’s “single subject” and budget appropriations requirements.

In communication from the city attorney to mayor and council, Rankin said the Arizona Legislature adopted various budget reconciliation bills, including but not limited to SB 1824 and HB 2893, during the last legislative session. According to the communication, “The bills in question include statutory amendments that have absolutely no connection with state budget appropriations, and relate to many various and diverse (and unrelated) topics.

Arizona School Boards Association have filed a lawsuit challenging SB 1824 and other budget reconciliation bills, including SB 1819 and HB 2898. The City of Tucson will now join that lawsuit.

The city council specifically addressed an amendment to Senate Bill 1824, which they say prohibits a city from enacting a “vaccine passport” or requiring any person from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. This is scheduled to become effective on Sept. 29.

“This law is in direct conflict with the guidance of both Centers for Disease Control and the Arizona Department of Health Services. Our school districts should not be punished for simply following the advice of our health experts,” Romero said.

Tucson Mayor and Council also voted in favor of joining a lawsuit filed by the City of Phoenix challenging House Bill 2893.

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said the amendment to House Bill 2893 changes the qualifications for members of civilian review boards, which are composed of civilian appointees who oversee allegations of law-enforcement misconduct.

The Act purports to dictate and fundamentally change who can be a member of such boards, and require training that only certified peace officers typically receive.

“The Tucson Police Department already provides training and technical support to civilians on the Citizen Police Advisory Review Board and other review boards,” Romero said.

The new law requires civilians to receive 80 hours of police training in areas like use-of-force, de-escalation, body-worn cameras, in-custody deaths, criminal and administrative investigations and representative due process as well as simulated law enforcement training.

“The state law is completely unnecessary and intentionally burdensome. It creates a false sense of division between our officers and the public. When in reality, at the Tucson Police Department, we actively seek community input to improve the outcomes of law enforcement and the public alike,” Romero said.

Another amendment to House Bill 2893 extends the scope of SB 1487 to allow a single Arizona legislator to ask the Attorney General to investigate not just the actions of a local governing body, but also “any written policy, written rule or written regulation adopted by any agency, department or other entity of the county, city or town.”

City of Tucson leaders believe this Act extends State law to other non-legislative areas of the City and threatens the City’s right to State shared revenues.

“The state legislature needs to drop its obsession with micromanaging cities and towns like the City of Tucson and instead focus on the many pressing issues in our state,” Romero said.

Mayor and Council’s unanimous vote will now allow the City of Tucson to participate as amicus in the cases.

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