The chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors gave Gov. Doug Ducey a heads up the day before the board approved additional measures governing the reopening of restaurants, saying business owners and the public wanted more specifics than the state offered.
In a May 12 letter to Ducey, Ramon Valadez outlined the role of the county’s Back to Business task force, and said the board has “developed measures designed to meet the general conditions of your Executive Orders, but provide specificity based on best public health practices.”
Valadez said he anticipated the board would approve “17 specific measures for restaurants to safely reopen for in-facility dining,” and that they would be temporarily added to the Pima County Health Code, which governs all restaurants in the county.
On May 13, the board added 15 of the 17 measures into the code and called two others “recommendations.”
The brief letter lays out the county’s argument for going beyond state measures, telling Ducey, “We appreciate your general guidance but business owners and the public have asked for specific measures.”
The letter was copied to County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, mayors and officials from Tucson, South Tucson, Marana, Sahuarita and Oro Valley, but not to any members of the Board of Supervisors.
Pima County has since modified its proclamation after pushback from restaurant owners, axing two of them. It has scheduled an emergency meeting for 2 p.m. Thursday to approve the changes.
At a meeting Tuesday, the board debated the measures but didn’t mention during a six-hour meeting that it faces a state investigation and potential loss of state-shared revenues for going beyond the governor’s requirements.
Section 7 of his latest Executive Order, unveiled May 12 and which took effect May 16, states in part that “no county, city or town may make or issue any order, rule or regulation that conflicts with or is in addition to the policy, directives or intent of this Executive Order…”
Three state legislators last week asked the office of state Attorney General Mark Brnovich to investigate whether Pima County has overstepped its authority, and that probe is under way.
On Wednesday, Ducey gave a clue as to how the state views Pima County’s action when asked about it at his weekly press conference.
“The guidance that the CDC and White House have given the state of Arizona was that we could go county by county or statewide,” Ducey said. “The guidance that we have put out is statewide, and that’s what we expect municipalities to follow. Those are the guidelines.”