Arizona's GOP Governor Issues New E.O. Declaring Schools Open in March, but Don't Pat Him on the Back

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

There’s an old saying that claims the month of March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb — but in one instance, it might well be the other way around. I’m talking about the latest, coronavirus-connected political news coming out of the Grand Canyon state.


On Tuesday, you could barely browse the headlines without seeing breaking story after breaking story relating to the toppling of Wuhan coronavirus mandates that have all but crippled the prosperous economy President Trump built in his four-year term. And the progressive left and its media allies framed every one of them as “Republican-led U.S. states’ chief executives sure are okay with more deaths taking place.”

What a contrast to today, when Arizona Governor Doug Ducey quietly signed an executive order that will open nearly all of the state’s schools on March 15.

While Ducey happens to be a Republican, he’s the type of Republican that the media and Democrats tend to refer to as the “good kind” — the kind who waffles and wavers on substantive issues, and who likes to “reach across the aisle” to Democrats, more than happy to claim victory. You know, like my state’s former failed senator, Jeff Flake, and, of course, the late Sen. John McCain. More on that later.

The Associated Press reported:

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order Wednesday for students and teachers to return to school later this month.

Schools must return to in-person learning by March 15 or after their spring break. The only exceptions will be middle and high schools in counties where COVID-19 transmission rates are considered high.

The Republican governor said he made his decision after consulting with public school leaders and looking at guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Going by CDC metrics, a dozen of Arizona’s 15 counties have reached stages where they are eligible to open campuses. That includes the two largest counties, Maricopa and Pima.


As far as the “exceptions” mentioned in the progressive-friendly, wire service piece, Arizona Patch gave the details — the fine print shows that only a scattering of counties with high infection rates will be exempted from the order. It’s based on the advice of health experts… you know, science:

Exceptions will be made for middle and high schools in counties with high coronavirus transmission rates, which currently includes Coconino, Yavapai and Pinal Counties. Tribal nations will also be exempt if they have issued a stay-at-home order.

In general, a move like this from red states has progressives on social media — and across the country — chewing nails over the restrictions lifted by governors in recent days and weeks. Unfortunately for them, it’s what parents and students want. My colleague Kira Davis wrote an open letter to teachers union members as a parent herself, in a piece Wednesday.

In another blow to top-down, executive control of economic activity favored by leftists and establishment Republicans, the Arizona House — which has a 31-29 Republican majority — passed a bill Wednesday which would allow businesses to decide if they wish to ask customers entering their establishments to mask up.


The Republican-controlled Arizona House on Wednesday approved a measure that would let businesses ignore government mask mandates imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus despite emotional opposition from minority Democrats who say it could cost lives.


It continued: (emphasis mine)

But Rep. Joseph Chaplik, a Scottsdale Republican who sponsored the bill, HB 2770, said his proposal is about freedom.

“This is a bill that government needs to be in check and I believe the individuals and the business owners are intelligent enough to make their own decisions on how to run their businesses,” Chaplik said. “We do not need government overreach in this community.”

Here’s how it went down, per AP: (emphasis mine)

The House debated the bill for more than an hour, with Democrats and Republicans sparring about the pandemic response that has added to the political polarization across the nation. Democrats said it was a matter of public health while Republicans kept hammering about free choice. The proposal passed on a 31-28 vote and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Back to our governor. Last June, I wrote extensively about the problem small business owners were having with Gov. Ducey forcing health-related businesses like fitness clubs to remain closed. Luckily, there are some actual Arizona conservatives, like Rep. Andy Biggs, who took the time to listen to these voices without them having to spend a day in court.

Another perfect example is connected to the governor’s new E.O. For months, there were ongoing calls from the Democrats in the state legislature and in the mayors’ offices for a statewide mask mandate. Ducey could have told them all to sit down, but he didn’t. He gave every executive, on the county and city level, leave to put in place (or not put in place) masking requirements.


So, while he sometimes does the right thing, there’s no need for conservatives to rush to pat Doug Ducey on the back.

Notice that the Arizona House bill passed by a three-vote margin (with one abstaining). More establishment (and some conservative) Republicans in office need to learn the crucial lesson in all of this: if our side can hold or gain legislative and gubernatorial seats (and show a little backbone from time to time), then progressive activists and their friends in positions of power will continue to gnash their teeth — and that’s all they can do.



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