State Supreme Court nixes mask, vax bans

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The Arizona Supreme Court today found several elements of the state’s 2022 budget, including a ban on face mask mandates in K-12 schools, violate a provision of the state constitution requiring individual bills to encompass a single subject.

Less than two hours after it heard oral arguments in the case Tuesday, the justices unanimously upheld a trial court ruling from September that several budget bills violated a section of the Arizona Constitution known as the “single-subject rule.” That rule mandates that legislation embrace “one general subject” and that the subject be clear in the title of the bill.

The court will issue a full opinion at a later date. That opinion will likely change the legislature’s practice of packing budget bills with unrelated policy initiatives.

City Council Member Vince Manfredi said he doesn’t think the ruling will change things in Maricopa.

“I don’t see much of an impact on the City of Maricopa as our city council has been clear that mandates of any kind are not something they wish to pursue,” Manfredi said. “In any case. (the law) prohibits state and county governments from imposing vaccine mandates, so there is a law already in place that must be looked at as well. Regarding schools, I think the will of the people should prevail.”

Council Member Bob Marsh added that he doesn’t foresee much impact either, saying, “I don’t see any local change unless we get big spikes in infections in the future.”

The lawsuit challenging the additions to the budget bill was filed by a group of elected officials, advocacy groups, and citizens after Republican lawmakers and Gov. Doug Ducey enacted a budget that included numerous changes to the law that they believed were in violation of the single-subject rule.

Those provisions barred school districts and charter schools from imposing face mask requirements, prohibited the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 schools, barred colleges and universities from requiring COVID vaccines or testing of students, and prohibited cities and counties from requiring people to show “vaccine passports.”