TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order Monday pushing back on local governments that enact vaccine mandates.
In a news release, the governor said people employed by a local government can use earned sick leave due to COVID-19 exposure.
Ducey went on to encourage Arizonans to get vaccinated but said he would not allow "vaccine discrimination."
"We encourage all Arizonans to get the vaccine — it's safe, effective and free," said Governor Ducey. "But getting it is a personal choice, and we will not allow discrimination based on vaccination status. Today's order builds on our efforts to protect Arizonans from excessive mandates that hinder their freedom to choose what's best for their health."
The news comes after the Tucson City Council approved a requirement for its employees to be vaccinated by Aug. 24.
Ducey's executive order reinforces state law, stating:
- 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; and
- Any county, city, town or political subdivision official that fails to provide earned sick leave to an employee if it is recommended that the employee stay home due to exposure to COVID-19, is in violation of the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act and action may be taken by individuals pursuant to the Act in the courts or through the Industrial Commission.
City Attorney Mike Rankin released this statement to the mayor and City Council:
“My initial view is that the EO has no effect on the actions taken by the Mayor and Council on Friday. Just as the Governor lacked the authority to override the prior Pima County mask requirements by issuing an EO, he lacks the authority to preempt the actions you took on Friday," Rankin said in the statement. "I will provide you an analysis of this EO when it is ready.”
Mayor Regina Romero agrees with Rankin, and called the governor's executive order "legally meaningless."
After consulting with our City Attorney, it is clear that the EO @dougducey issued today is legally meaningless.— Regina Romero (@TucsonRomero) August 16, 2021
The Governor must stop prioritizing his political aspirations over the health and well-being of Arizonans.
Full statement ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/ALFAXrdmBJ
Ducey says the order is consistent with the legislation signed on June 30, which does not provide any authority to implement vaccine mandates in Arizona.
Ducey and the state legislature also passed a law banning mask mandates in schools in the past legislative session. Since then, the three major universities in the state announced mask mandates for the upcoming semester, as well as the Tucson Unified School District.
We encourage all Arizonans to get the vaccine — it's safe, effective and free. But getting it is a personal choice, and we will not allow discrimination based on vaccination status. Details here: https://t.co/uUFC5NbLx8 2/2— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) August 16, 2021
Ducey's office, later released this statement to KGUN 9:
"Executive Orders have the force of law. The Executive Order we issued today relies on statutes that have been in effect throughout the pandemic. No city has the authority to issue orders that are in violation of statutes that have been in effect for years, whether during a state of emergency or not. And all cities should comply with the law and treat their employees with the respect they deserve rather than issuing threats and edicts."