Attorney General Brnovich: Tucson Vaccine Requirement Violates State Law

Published: Tuesday, September 7, 2021 - 1:10pm
Updated: Wednesday, September 8, 2021 - 12:23pm
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The city of Tucson is violating state law by requiring employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said Tuesday. 

“Tucson’s vaccine mandate is illegal and the city could be held liable for attempting to force government employees to take it against their beliefs,” Brnovich said in a press release. “COVID-19 vaccinations should be a choice, not a government mandate.”

Tucson’s City Council and mayor voted in mid-August to require municipal workers to get vaccinated. But just a few days later, Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order to block cities from mandating COVID-19 immunizations. In his announcement Tuesday, Brnovich said Tucson is violating that executive order. Brnovich concluded the city is also violating bans on vaccine requirements laid out in the state Legislature’s budget package.

“The Legislature’s intent was clear when it passed Senate Bill 1824 earlier this year," the attorney general's spokesperson, Katie Conner said during a call with reporters Tuesday. "Government entities from the local to state level cannot mandate COVID-19 vaccines.”

Tucson has 30 days to rescind or amend its vaccine requirement, Brnovich's office said. If the city does not change the rule, Brnovich said Tucson stands to lose millions of dollars in state funding. Brnovich said private employers in the state can require COVID-19 vaccinations but must allow certain exemptions.

In a statement, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero called Brnovich's opinion "deeply unfortunate." 

“This report reads more as a campaign speech filled with political commentary rather than a fact-based legal opinion," Romero wrote.

The statement said the city is reviewing its legal options. In the meantime, city manager Michael Ortega said the city would pause implementation of the vaccine policy. 

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include response from the city of Tucson.

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