State judge strikes down law banning schools from requiring students to wear masks

Legislature violated constitution by rolling mask law and other policies into the state budget, a judge ruled Monday.

By Andrew Oxford | Arizona Public Media

A state judge on Monday struck down a new law banning Arizona schools from requiring students to wear masks along, with several other policies legislators approved earlier this year.

The law was scheduled to take effect this week and had put into question measures that several school districts across the state had adopted to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as students returned to classrooms for the fall semester.

But Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper ruled that legislators violated the Arizona constitution by rolling the provision into the state budget.

Arizona’s constitution says each piece of legislation should concern only one issue and that the title of legislation should accurately reflect its subject.

However, lawmakers attached a range of policies to what are known as “budget reconciliation bills,” which Cooper says should be related to the state’s budget.

“None of these measures remotely pertains to the budget or budget reconciliation,” Cooper wrote in a 17-page ruling.

The budget reconciliation bills included a smörgåsbord of other policies, many salvaged from legislation that had failed to gain the necessary support to pass at the state Capitol, such as a measure limiting how teachers can talk about race in the classroom.

Other policies challenged in the lawsuit would prohibit local governments from requiring anyone be vaccinated for COVID-19 and would curtail the powers of Arizona’s secretary of state.

The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed in August by the Arizona School Boards Association, teachers, parents of students, and others.

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