Tuesday, January 29, 2008

And the winner is...

Jack Harper, 2nd Runner Up for the 2008 Legislative Loon Award, made a late push today for a recount, with his promise/threat to inflict his brand of lunacy on the entire state, not just LD4.

From the AZ Republic's Political Insider -

Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, was working on pumping up a crowd of loyal Mike Huckabee supporters (like maybe 20) in the state capitol courtyard this afternoon. And, you know, when Mr. Harper has a mic in his hand...you've just got to pause to listen.


"I will run for a statewide seat in 2010," Harper announced, adding later that he believes "there is no personal sacrifice too big to stand for your beliefs."

Harper can't officially announce his campaign for an office unless he is prepared to resign from the senate. But he told Insider after his announcement that the positions would either relate to his concerns about election integrity (Translation: running for Secretary of State) or how he's not a big fan of Sen. McCain (Translation: running for U.S. Senate.)

He gets points for a valiant effort, but this isn't Florida circa 2000 or Ohio circa 2004 - all votes count, and they only count once. He's still 2nd Runner Up.

Nope, the decision the judges have reached is final...

Your 2008 Legislative Loon is...

State Representative Russell Pearce!!

OK, so that's not really a surprise; he's always a prime contender for this award. In last year's competition, he fell short because "[h]is brand of lunacy seems to be singularly focused."

He seems to have taken that observation to heart.

Not only does he have his usual slew of immigrant-bashing bills (11 and counting), he's expanded his focus, spitting his venom on the state budget, public safety, public universities, schools, municipalities and the state's voters themselves.

Some of the highlights -

Sponsored HB2220, a permanent repeal of the state equalization property tax. That's a quarter billion dollar hit to school funding annually (legislative fiscal note here)...

...Sponsored HB2339, a bill to create a voluntary tax fund to balance the state's budget...

...Cosponsored HB2603, a bill to bar the use of photo-enforcement generated speeding tickets as a basis for MVD suspending a driver's license or as a basis for an insurance company to raise premiums or withdraw coverage from a driver...

...Sponsored HB2637, a bill to bar municipalities from imposing a sales tax (or something similar) on a laundry list of business activities and services while cosponsoring HB2641, a bill that would redirect some state-shared revenues from municipalities to property owners who live in unincorporated areas. So, one one hand he is reducing the amount of money that cities and towns receive from the state while on the other hand he wants to restrict their ability to make up the difference.

Note: this bill refers to A.R.S section 43-1072.02, but I couldn't find that particular section. There is a section 43-1072.01, but not a section .02. I'm not sure if it's a mistake in drafting the bill or a failure in my research abilities.

...Sponsored HB2678, a bill to require drug testing of all welfare recipients and applicants for welfare...

...Sponsored HCR2019, an amendment to the state constitution to bar legislators from holding a position on a local school board. The most interesting part about this one is that a brief search of legislative bios showed that one of the people that would be affected by this is Rep. Rich Crandall (R-LD19), one of Pearce's fellow Mesa Republicans.

...Sponsored HCR2044, an amendment to the state constitution to allow the lege to ignore voter-approved limitations on legislative appropriations, if the lege certifies in writing that it needs to do so in order to avoid a budget deficit.

...Sponsored HCR2049, an amendment to the state constitution to create a crime victims restitution fund (sounds good, right? Hang on...) by diverting monies awarded as punitive damages awarded for death or injury.

The victim to whom the punitive damages were initially awarded would then receive not the amount awarded, but only the amount his/her attorney spent on punitive damages research, plus 10 percent.

...Cosponsored SCM1002, a Senate Memorial (aka - letter to the U.S. Congress) supporting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution ending the direct election of U.S. Senators by the voters of the various states and reinstituting the election of U.S. Senators by the legislatures of the various states.

And then, of course, there is his crowning achievement in legislative lunacy -

SB1214, the now-infamous bill to allow concealed weapons on school campuses.

Overall, he has sponsored or cosponsored at least 8 measures that would limit or reduce state revenues during a legislative session where he'll be helping to deal with a billion dollar budget deficit.

...So why is he the chair of the House Appropriations Committee?

Besides his legislative proposals, he still spouts off on a regular basis, and not he doesn't limit he pronouncements to only the subject of immigrants. He's spread his rhetorical wings.

For example, at the same January 23 meeting of the Joint Appropriations committee cited in Harper/2nd Runner Up post, Pearce advocated that, instead of funding institutions of higher education, the state should just give out vouchers that students could use wherever they chose to. (Check at approximately the 1:57:00 mark of the longer January 23 Joint Appropriations meeting on this page.)

So, for leaving his single-minded obsession behind, for expanding his bile-spreading efforts to include poor people, voters, students, fellow Republicans, higher education in general, municipalities' financial stability, and more, State Representative Russell Pearce (R-National Alliance) is the Arizona Legislature's

2008 Legislative Loon.

Addendum: There were a couple of Pearce's bill that looked like they might be bad news, but I'm not sure what they really do. He sponsored SB1139, a bill to change some of the rules for the state treasurer, including one that allows him to charge higher administrative fees in the various investment pools overseen by the state treasurer. Also, he sponsored HB2600, a bill that requires the state to purchase performance management software that meets very specific criteria. I don't know if this is a good bill or something that is geared to direct a lucrative state contract to a particular software vendor.

Have a good night...

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