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Judge's Ruling Allows Residents To Petition For Businesses To Provide Benefits

An Arizona judge has slapped down efforts by Republican lawmakers to block local governments from requiring private employers to provide additional fringe benefits to workers beyond the minimum that’s required by state or federal law, ruling the 2016 law as unconstitutional.

The decision from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joshua Rogers said the law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Doug Ducey violates a voter-approved law known as the Voter Protection Act. That law forbids the Legislature from modifying voter-passed initiatives unless three-fourths of the lawmakers approve and if the changes "further the purposes" of the initiative.

The ruling now means residents can petition their local government to require private businesses to provide benefits such as vacation time, subsidized health insurance and maternity leave.

Regina Romero is a member of the Tucson City Council. She can once again pursue her bid to require employers in the city to offer paid maternity leave.

"I remember when I first had my kids I was only able to use my vacation time and sick time. And after that I took time off. It was unpaid," Romero said.

The GOP effort to block the local requirements was pushed by House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, who said the challenge now becomes businesses trying to adhere to a patchwork of regulations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report .

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.