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Experts: Appealing to humanity of Arizona leaders may be more efficient than suing

Posted at 3:38 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 21:33:36-04

PHOENIX — Legal experts tell ABC15 we may start to see more lawsuits filed against Gov. Doug Ducey and state leaders who aren't doing their job to provide much-needed coronavirus relief to Arizonans.

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Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer said right now, people need to see action.

"We keep hearing, 'We're working on it, we're working on it.' Whether it's the CARES Act being released to the cities or counties or the DES issue, whether it's those benefits."

At some point, our leadership, our governor, our legislature everybody has to say, 'These are our top priorities and we have to do everything we can to address these top priorities,'" said Volkmer.

Volkmer is leading a lawsuit against the federal government. The federal CARES Act gave money directly to cities and counties with populations over 500,000 people. In Arizona, those are Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Maricopa County and Pima County. An additional $1.8 billion went to Gov. Ducey to distribute to the rest of the state. The county says towns and businesses are suffering due to Ducey's inaction to distribute those funds.

"Really this is about standing up and saying, no, all Arizonans matter," said Volkmer.

Volkmer said these kinds of lawsuits involve social welfare legislation. He said the government is protected in these cases, and the discretion is provided to the government on how to administer those funds.

"There's a long history of lawsuits that have been mitigated and effectively, courts have said in these types of cases --social welfare cases, there is always going to be winners and there's always going to be losers. There is never enough money that everybody gets something."

There are many who've been waiting for unemployment benefits for more than two months. DES has been slow to launch federal assistance programs and provide clarity on when people could see relief.

Volkmer said these system failures impact us all.

"We are all much more dependent on each other than we care to admit. Even if you are a high-end user, somebody has to make that item that you're going to purchase, or if you're going to a restaurant you need people working there, and you have to have people who make money to buy products," he said.

He said because lawsuits can be tough to win with these cases, it's more likely that people will come together to share personal stories and apply moral pressure on the governor and state leaders.

"We need to start making decisions. There are certain decisions and priorities that I think are easy. Making sure people are taken care of, people aren't losing their businesses, aren’t losing their houses, people have the ability to pay for food, those should be our highest priorities, as a government," said Volkner.