Ducey signs bills limiting school masks, vaccination rules
PHOENIX (AP) — Gov. Doug Ducey has signed legislation barring government agencies from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations and forbidding schools from mandating masks for students under age 18 unless their parents approve. The Republican governor signed the two bills on Monday. They are the latest measures backed only by GOP members of the Legislature responding to what they believe are overly-aggressive government responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ducey also signed a bill, HB 2507, declaring religious services are essential and “vital to the health and welfare of the public,” even during a state of emergency. A different bill, HB 2449, signed into law also allows hospice patients to receive clergy visits during public emergencies.
The school mask ban replaces one that was included in last year’s state budget but thrown out by the courts. The state Supreme Court agreed with lower courts that the Republican-controlled Legislature violated the state constitution by including a host of policy provisions unrelated to the spending plan in the budget.
Federal health officials say mask-wearing during times of high community transmission of COVID-19 greatly limits its spread and vaccinations prevent many death and serious illnesses.
The second bill banned any state or local government from requiring employees from getting the COVID-19 vaccine. It was similar to Ducey’s executive order last year. The bills regarding the masks and vaccine mandates were opposed by all Democrats in the Legislature. There was bi-partisan support for the religious services bill and the hospital bill.
Arizona’s Family Digital News Staff contributed to this report.
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