ARIZONA NEWS

US Labor Department warns Arizona, 2 other GOP states over COVID rules

Oct 19, 2021, 4:00 PM | Updated: Oct 20, 2021, 6:51 am
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

PHOENIX (AP) — The Biden administration threatened Tuesday to revoke the authority for three Republican-controlled states to handle their own workplace safety enforcement because they have refused to adopt rules to protect health care workers from COVID-19.

The threats were sent to Arizona, South Carolina and Utah as the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration prepares to adopt much more far-reaching vaccination and testing rules affecting 80 million Americans. In nearly half the states, it will have to rely on state labor regulators for enforcement.

OSHA officials say Arizona, South Carolina and Utah are not complying with their promises to enforce labor standards that are at least as good as those adopted by the federal government.

At issue is a rule requiring personal protective equipment, social distancing and other safety measures for workers at health care facilities that care for people with COVID-19. It also requires paid sick time for employees who contract COVID-19, need to get vaccinated or are dealing with vaccine side effects.

“The agency will not hesitate to use all of our resources to protect health care workers from known health hazards,” said Jim Frederick, acting assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

OSHA has given up its authority to enforce workplace safety laws and regulations for the private sector in 22 states, including Arizona, South Carolina and Utah. In exchange, the states must adopt rules that are as effective or better than the federal regulations at protecting workers.

OSHA officials said they will take the first step toward revoking that authority, which all three states have had since the 1980s, and reclaiming jurisdiction for federal enforcers in the health care sector or others.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, called the move “nothing short of a political stunt and desperate power grab.”

Trevor Laky, a spokesman for the Industrial Commission of Arizona, said the agency has begun a rulemaking process. While the state could adopt emergency rules that take effect quickly, he said agency leaders prefer a more transparent process that allows for public comment.

He blamed OSHA officials for taking two months to tell the state that its existing wage and hour laws weren’t good enough.

“We are disappointed that federal OSHA has decided to take this step against our very successful state OSHA program,” Emily Farr, head of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, said in a statement.

Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson said in a statement that the federal rules would burden health care providers. They reject the assertion that their own rules aren’t as good as the federal ones.

“Despite today’s communication, we still welcome an opportunity to further explain our position and recommendations” Cox and Henderson said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)...
KTAR.com

Phoenix metro sets record with workforce of 2.3 million at end of 2021

The Phoenix metro area had a record number of workers at the end of 2021, the city said in a Wednesday press release.
4 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Arizona utility regulators reject new renewable energy rules for the second time in a year

Arizona's utility regulators have rejected new rules that would have drastically boosted the use of renewable energy for the second time in a year, drawing sharp reaction from clean energy advocates who said the decision leaves the state far behind what is needed to address climate change.
4 hours ago
David Whitaker (Pinal County Sheriff's Office Photo)...
KTAR.com

Arizona sex offender who hid in desert for 107 days sentenced to 25 years behind bars

A 42-year-old man who was accused of sexual contact with a minor and hid for more than 107 days in the desert before being arrested has been sentenced to 25 years in prison, authorities said.
1 day ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Arizona Senate panel OKs working poor tax credit backed by Democrats, Gov. Ducey

A Democratic proposal to create a new tax credit for working low-income Arizonans that Republican Gov. Doug Ducey adopted as part of his budget proposal was approved by an Arizona Senate committee Wednesday.
1 day ago
FILE - This Aug. 19, 2010, file photo shows then-Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan at a new...
Associated Press

Former Arizona prisons director had tequila in system before standoff, police say

Former Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan had already consumed a half bottle of tequila by the time officers responded to a call nearly three weeks ago at his Tempe home that he had shot himself, according to police reports released Wednesday that offer a new theory on how the former prisons boss was injured.
1 day ago
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Jeff Flake, the new U.S. ambassador to Turkey, p...
Associated Press

Ex-US Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona begins post as ambassador to Turkey

Former U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona formally stepped into his new position as U.S. ambassador to Turkey on Wednesday.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
ENVOQUE MD

Thyroid issues: Here are the warning signs and what to do

In a 100-person office in the United States, an estimated 12 co-workers, employees and loved ones, will likely develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. That’s because, according to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of the U.S. population will experience thyroid issues.
(Facebook Photo/NHTSA)...
Sweet James

Upcoming holiday season is peak time for DUI arrests

The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most dangerous time of the year to be driving. That’s why it’s important to remember to call Sweet James Accident Attorneys if you’re injured or arrested because of a DUI accident.
...
DISC DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

What you need to know about spine health

With 540 million people suffering from lower back pain, it remains the leading cause of long-term disability. That’s why World Spine Day on Oct. 16 will raise awareness about spinal health with its theme, BACK2BACK. “BACK2BACK will focus on highlighting ways in which people can help their spines by staying mobile, avoiding physical inactivity, not overloading […]
US Labor Department warns Arizona, 2 other GOP states over COVID rules