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Arizona AG Mark Brnovich announced Wednesday that the state's total abortion ban is in effectYouTube screenshot

TUCSON, Arizona (LifeSiteNews) – The city of Tucson has halted a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees after the Arizona attorney general threatened to withhold millions of dollars of funding from the city.

In a statement earlier this week, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said that the mandate violated an executive order issued last month by Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and a recent state law that outlaws vaccine requirements by government entities.

“Tucson’s vaccine mandate is illegal and the city could be held liable for attempting to force government employees to take it against their beliefs,” Brnovich said, adding that “COVID-19 vaccinations should be a choice, not a government mandate.”

The attorney general’s office (AGO) threatened to direct the Arizona state treasurer to block Tucson from receiving the city’s portion of state shared revenues unless it retracted the mandate.

“Additionally, the AGO believes the City of Tucson could subject itself to potential liability claim,” Brnovich’s statement warned.

The AGO gave Tucson 30 days to reverse course or losing funding, which could amount to up to $175 million.

In response, city officials said Wednesday that they will pause the vaccine mandate for the time being. “Until we have a better understanding of our legal position in relation to today’s report, I have instructed staff to pause on the implementation of the policy,” said Tucson city manager Michael Ortega, according to the Epoch Times.

The city’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements, approved last month, would have forced city workers to show proof of vaccination by August 24 or be suspended for five days without pay. Arizona banned government vaccine mandates with a law, S.B. 1824, in June. That legislation does not come into effect until the end of September, however.

A week before Tucson’s vaccination deadline, Gov. Ducey signed an executive order immediately prohibiting vaccine mandates by cities before S.B. 1824 takes effect, though Tucson initially refused to comply, the Arizona Republic reported. Ducey and fellow Arizona Republicans have so far not taken action against mandates by private businesses.

The attorney general’s office began investigating whether Tucson’s vaccine rules violated state law late last month, following a complaint filed by Republican state senator Kelly Townsend. In a statement Tuesday, the senator slammed Tucson mayor Regina Romero’s “lack of respect of the law.”

“I further encourage those who were forced into taking a COVID-19 vaccine against their will in order to maintain employment to seek damages and to hold her fully accountable for this illegal act,” Sen. Townsend said.