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Arizona GOP lawmakers want Ducey to withhold funding from school districts that require masks

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Posted at 11:26 AM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-12 14:45:27-04

PHOENIX — Arizona Republican lawmakers have asked Gov. Doug Ducey to withhold funding from any school districts requiring mask mandates.

In a letter issued Wednesday, GOP members also asked the governor to take legal action against districts that are not complying with state law.

Lawmakers asked four things happen to hold school districts accountable:

  1. Withhold the federal funding currently under the Governor’s management from any school district that is non-compliant with state law.
  2. Authorize temporary Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) for all students trapped within any school district that is non-compliant with state law.
  3. Send a notice to all families within the boundaries of a school district that is non-compliant with state law empowering them with the following information:
    1. The retroactive June 30, 2021 effective date of the law prohibiting mask mandates.
    2. The availability of the newly authorized temporary Empower Scholarship Accounts (item #2 above) and how to take advantage of them.
    3. The abundance of school choice options afforded to them by state law including, but not limited to, public school open enrollment, public school out of boundary enrollment, public charter school enrollment, Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, micro-schools, learning pods, STO scholarships, online curriculum, and home school opportunities.
  4. Initiate legal action against any school district that is non-compliant with state law.

The letter, authored by Representative Jake Hoffman (R-12th District) went on to say "the legislature did its job by passing common-sense laws to protect the children and students of Arizona from anti-science mask and vaccine mandates, now we are eager to see the executive branch do its job to ensure that those laws are faithfully executed by the various levels of government within this state."

"The blatant disregard for the State of Arizona’s authority exhibited by the non-compliant local governments is an affront to the very core of our state and nation’s form of government. A resounding message must be delivered to any local government or subdivision of the state considering defying state law—lawlessness will not be tolerated."

The letter was signed by the following GOP lawmakers:

  • Representative Jake Hoffman
  • Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham
  • House Majority Whip Leo Biasiucci
  • Representative Brenda Barton
  • Representative Walt Blackman
  • Representative Shawnna Bolick
  • Representative Judy Burges
  • Representative Joseph Chaplik
  • Representative John Fillmore
  • Representative Mark Finchem
  • Representative Steve Kaiser
  • Representative Quang Nguyen
  • Representative Becky Nutt
  • Representative Jacqueline Parker
  • Representative Beverly Pingerelli
  • Representative Bret Roberts
  • Representative Justin Wilmeth
  • Senate Majority Whip Sonny Borrelli
  • Senator Nancy Barto
  • Senator Sine Kerr
  • Senator David Livingston
  • Senator J.D. Mesnard
  • Senator Warren Petersen
  • Senator Wendy Rogers
  • Senator Kelly Townsend
  • Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita

The Governor's office issued the following statement in response to the letter:

“We haven’t reviewed it yet, but we’ve been looking at ideas on this topic. The governor is anti-mandate, but pro-vaccine and pro-parental decision on masks and other measures. Parents should decide what’s best for their kids, and those are the kind of policies he will be supporting.”

The Arizona Department of Education also weighed in saying, "As state leaders, we should be focused on keeping schools open for in-person learning – not attempting to find ways to punish schools trying to do just that. After seventeen months, we know how to operate schools safely during a pandemic by using layered mitigation strategies like universal masking to lower the spread of COVID-19 on campus."