Tucson puts its vaccine mandate on pause

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 2:42 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The city of Tucson has put its vaccine mandate on hold after an opinion from the Arizona State Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

Brnovich in the opinion said the mandate is illegal because it violates state law and an executive order by Gov. Doug Ducey prohibiting vaccine mandates.

The city says it is weighing its options ahead of next weeks city council meeting where those options will be discussed.

In an afternoon press release, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero accused Brnovich of playing politics and said his opinion reads more like a political speech rather than a legal opinion.

Arizona State Sen. Kelly Townsend, who filed the complaint against the city accused the Mayor of “imposing her lack of respect of the law onto the employees of the city of Tucson.”

Vaccine mandates have become exceedingly political in the state.

In his opinion, Brnovich told the city if it did not rescind the mandate within 30 days, he will instruct the State Treasurer to withhold the city’s share of state shared revenues which could amount to $120 million.

On Aug. 13, the city voted 6-1, to make vaccines as a condition of employment for the city. It has achieved nearly 80% compliance but police and fire lag far behind with less than 40%.

But some in the city are ready to push back even with the AG’s threat.

“Just because the Attorney General expresses an opinion does not mean that opinion is binding,” said Ward 6 City Council Member Steve Kozachik. “We have due process and we’re going to express our due process rights.”

The city argues the laws prohibiting vaccine mandates won’t take effect until Sept. 29, 90 days following the end of the legislative session.

But also, the laws were attached to budget bills which makes them void because of the state’s “single issue” provision which says laws cannot contain more than one subject.

“We have a lot of procedure between now and the time we have to make that decision,” Kozachik said. “And the procedure is pursuing our rights within the court system.”

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