PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey is firing back at local cities requiring its employees to get vaccinated by threatening legal consequences for any municipality daring to violate the state's new laws.
On Monday, the governor signed a new executive order that threatens cities with criminal charges if they violate a law passed in June that prohibits local governments from implementing vaccine mandates.
The order states that city-issued mandates "are actions punishable by a class 3 misdemeanor and subject to legal action by individuals for violation of their rights under Arizona law."
The governor's order was issued a couple of days after Tucson Mayor Regina Romero announced all the municipal employees in her city will be required to show proof of vaccination by Aug. 24.
Tucson directly employs more than 2,000 workers and is one of the largest cities in Arizona to defy Ducey's anti-mandate policy.
Despite the governor's belief that vaccinations are "safe and effective," his new order suggests he's not budging on the idea of requiring government employees to receive them.
"But getting it is a personal choice, and we will not allow discrimination based on vaccination status," Ducey said in a statement. "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."
Mayor Romero has pushed back against Ducey's order by calling it "legally meaningless" and insisting Tucson has the authority to implement protocols that protect the public.
"Governor Ducey is playing a deadly game of one-upmanship that will lead to preventable hospitalizations and deaths,” Romero said in a statement.
The governor's order additionally warned cities not to deprive their employees of paid sick time if they must stay home from work after becoming exposed to the coronavirus.
Cities choosing not to grant paid time off for COVID-stricken employees are in violation of state law and could become subject to litigation, the order warned.
Many of the state's private employers have already begun to require their employees to show proof of vaccination.
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