Tucson says vaccine mandate is working amid lawsuit with state
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Numbers released by the City of Tucson shows that its vaccine mandate has been, in its words, successful
The city has vaccinated an additional 740 of its 3,957 employees since it passed its mask mandate on August 13, 2021.
When it started, about 63% of its workers had at least one dose. Now that number is nearing 83%.
But while the city touts its success in getting it workers to roll up their sleeves, city is being sued by the Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich who says the mandate violates state law.
He filed the suit last week saying the mandate violates laws that were passed by the legislature in the waning hours of the last session and attached to budget reconciliation bills.
Whether that’s legal or not gives Tucson an opening while the issues are litigated.
Tucson has paused its penalties for violating the mandate which could result in a five day suspension without pay.
But a pause doesn’t mean the city will roll over according to Ward 6 Councilmember Steve Kozachik.
“I think it’s important for our employees and for the public to understand that by pausing this we’re not saying we’re eliminating the notion of discipline,” he said. “I still believe that our focus should be about protecting our employees.”
The council met in a closed door session for an hour before instructing Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin to proceed by answering all the charges made by the Attorney General and implement measures needed to comply with President Biden’s vaccine mandate.
The President announced last week that all federal employees and workers at companies with more than 100 employees must be vaccinated or undergo weekly tests.
Brnovich is the first in the country to file suit against that mandate as well.
The rules are being written by OSHA but Brnovich says the rules are not his target. He says the mandate itself is government overreach.
The courts have promised a decision on whether state law applies to the city mandate before Sept. 29.
In the meantime, the city will not mete out any punishment for those who don’t comply but will continue to pursue them. It will also plan to reward those who do.
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