Republican members of the Arizona state legislature are so worked up about the prospect of paid sick leave in their state that they’re trying to actively divert taxpayer dollars from cities that have chosen to mandate it. You can tell these guys are really dedicated to the concept of a small central government that doesn’t meddle in local affairs.
Bloomberg has the story of Lauren Kuby, a city councilwoman in Tempe who launched an effort to require companies to offer paid sick leave in her city. It’s not a particularly radical proposal—cities all over the country have passed similar legislation in recent years.
Then, Kuby learned that by helping fast food workers not go broke when they catch a cold, she might inadvertently deprive Tempe of money for things like police and firefighters. Arizona’s state House has passed a bill disallowing cities from mandating sick leave from private companies, and the state Senate has passed a companion bill that would cut state funds for cities that go against state legislation. The message is clear: Push for sick leave and risk seeing slashes in the municipal budget. In fact, Tempe disbanded its formal sick leave study after the legislation passed, “because they were so chilled by the state threat,” Kuby told Bloomberg.
The bills are especially galling because the people of Arizona have repeatedly signaled that they want more government protection for workers. In 2006, years after state legislators made it illegal for cities to pass minimum wages that are higher than the state standard, voters overturned the law with a referendum, Bloomberg notes. The state then passed another law limiting minimum wage, and activists got it struck down in court.
Cities “think that they’re an independent and sovereign entity from the state, which is not true—they’re a creature of the state,” the state Senate president said of the rationale behind the bills. “You can’t put a municipality in jail, nor would we. What we’re really seeking to do is provide a deterrent effect.”
I get it—it’s kind of like how states aren’t independent and sovereign entities from the federal government. We’ll remember that sentiment next time the senator’s colleagues try to avoid abiding by U.S. gun control laws.