PHOENIX – On Wednesday, dozens of Arizona Republican lawmakers called on the governor publicly to reprimand state school districts for enacting COVID-19 guidelines that they say showcase a “refusal to follow state law.”
Arizona Representative Jake Hoffman, along with 25 Republican lawmakers, issued the following statement on Aug. 11, saying in part, “Under Arizona’s constitutional form of government, local governments do not have the authority or power to usurp state law simply because they disagree, yet that is precisely the kind of illegal activity in which many local governments are presently engaged. The Arizona legislature, with the Governor concurring, very intentionally enacted the laws at hand to protect Arizonans and Arizona children from the threat of government mandating them to wear a mask or be injected with a vaccine. Additionally, the legislature very thoughtfully attached a retroactivity clause to the law, so that there would be clear and consistent application of the statute for families and children throughout Arizona.”
The statement likens the refusal to follow state law by local governments to bordering on “anarchy.”
“Any local government that willfully and intentionally flaunts state law must be held accountable,” the statement went on to read.
Arizona’s Gov. Doug Ducey is called on by the group of lawmakers to withhold funding to any district not complying with state law and to take legal action against them.
“We sincerely appreciate the Governor’s conversations with us over the last few days and hope to see that result in swift action; however, the window to hold the rogue local governments refusing to follow state law accountable is closing and the people of Arizona’s patience is running short,” the statement continued.
List of Arizona Republican lawmakers who call on Gov. Doug Ducey to reprimand school districts who they say are in violation of state law with mask and COVID-19 protocols.
Below is a complete list of the lawmakers’ requests to Ducey:
- Withhold the federal funding currently under the Governor’s management from any school district that is non-compliant with state law.
- Authorize temporary Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) for all students trapped within any school district that is non-compliant with state law.
- 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: (A) The retroactive June 30, 2021 effective date of the law prohibiting mask mandates. (B) The availability of the newly authorized temporary Empower Scholarship Accounts (item #2 above) and how to take advantage of them. (C) 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.
- Initiate legal action against any school district that is non-compliant with state law.
The statement is signed by the following 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
Read the full statement here.
Mask mandates and school funding threatened
An Arizona law that will go into effect on Sept. 29 will prohibit local governments to put a mask mandate into effect, but some parents believe masks should be required in schools.
Other parents say they don’t want them.
Ducey’s office released a statement saying the governor is not supportive of mandates, and some parents think that’s the right move.
“He will be leaving masks to be optional and I believe that to be a good direction to go because it is a law and schools are supposed to be there to be a good example to follow the law,” said Alysia Smalling, a parent.
Parent Dr. Jacqueline Carter, also a pediatrician, says she has seen the effects of COVID-19 first hand and wants the school district to put mask mandates in place.
“It is all about having freedom of choice and by doing that, they are not giving school districts the freedom of choice to make safety decisions. This is a public health issue. It should be up to public schools to make this decision,” she said.